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CEO Talks About the Next 150 Years for Nokia

by Shashank Bhardwaj
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Finnish giant Nokia seems to have gotten very optimistic, post its sale to Microsoft. Well, it’s CEO, to be precise. The company’s current interim CEO – Risto Siilasmaa, is envisioning the company 150 years in to the future. Yes, 150.

“This is the beginning of the next 150 years of Nokia’s story”

As part of the deal involving the sale of Nokia’s Devices and Services division to Microsoft this month, the company’s previous CEO – Stephen Elop, will be stepping down as President and CEO of Nokia Corporation. He moves on to become the Executive Vice President of the company’s Devices & Services division. Once the transition is complete – Elop will join Microsoft as Executive Vice President.

Replacing him at Nokia Corporation is the company’s interim CEO – Risto Siilasmaa. The 47 year old Finn is the former CEO of F-Secure Corporation, a computer security firm. He took over as interim CEO of Nokia on September 3rd this month.

In a recent interview, Siilasmaa was very upbeat and optimistic of the company’s future. Nokia was founded in 1865, almost 150 years ago. Siilasmaa is confident the company will comfortably last the next 150 years too. “This is the beginning of the next 150 years of Nokia’s story,” he says.

Nokia will look very different without the mobile devices and services business. But it will be a strong company, with healthy finances and three strong businesses – NSN, HERE, and Advanced Technologies – each a leader in technology and innovation. – Risto Siilasmaa

Nokia’s Legacy

Nokia began as a paper company in 1865. It later diversified into rubber, electronic equipment other items. It launched its, and the world’s, first handheld smartphone in the Mobira Cityman 900 in 1987 to great success. In 2003, the company launched the Nokia 1100. With 200 million units shipped, the Nokia 1100 is not just the best-selling mobile phone of all time, but also the world’s highest-selling consumer electronics product.

Nokia dominated the mobile phone market for almost a decade – its Symbian OS once commanded a 62.5% market share in 2007. The company itself was the biggest in the segment for 14 years. However, the tables turned with the launch of Apple’s iPhone. Apple’s market share increased manifold over the years. That, coupled with the launch of Android, had Nokia fighting to stay alive.

Nokia was a little too late – both in adopting industry-changing technology like touschreens, or smartphone platforms like Android. As a result, it lost market share year after year. It embraced Microsoft’s Windows Phone in 2011, but this too did not help much. Windows Phone itself wasn’t a success, and even today commands less than 5% of the worldwide smartphone OS market.

Siilasmaa had reportedly said in 2012 that Nokia had a backup plan if its alliance with Microsoft failed (Microsoft on the other hand, had said it had no backup plan if Windows Phone failed). Nokia’s backup plan was probably selling itself to Microsoft – a deal that was closed in the last few weeks, valued at $7.2 billion.

The Road Ahead

Siilasmaa is currently serving as the corporation’s interm CEO, and his job profile includes finding a new CEO to take the company forward. Microsoft’s deal with Nokia means all smartphones (like its Lumia and Asha range) will no longer carry the Nokia tag. It may be an emotional moment for a good portion of the generation that grew up using Nokia, but according to Siilasmaa, there’s a lot more to the company, and its employees will “remind people what Nokia truly stands for.”

While critics wrote Nokia off long back, Siilasmaa clearly thinks the company will bounce back and dominate its market again. And for 150 years, too.

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