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Executive cull on cards at Nokia

08 февраля 2011

Until recently, industry speculation ahead of Nokia's upcoming strategy briefing centred on potential changes in the handset maker's smartphone operating system strategy. But now it appears that senior management at the Finnish vendor are on tenterhooks, with reports emerging that new CEO Stephen Elop is set to wield the axe and make drastic changes in his senior management team.

Speaking to Total Telecom on Monday, a Nokia spokesperson declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal's report that a number of senior executive board officials will soon leave the company as part of a major shake-up.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, the newspaper claimed that Elop is finalising a plan to revitalise the company and will brief executives – including those who are for the chop – on Thursday this week, before announcing the changes to the rest of the world the following day. Nokia is holding a strategy and financial briefing in London on Friday.

The paper's source also implied that the cull will focus primarily on the Finnish contingent of Nokia's 10-person executive board, headed by Elop.

Indeed, according to German publication WirtschaftsWoche, Niklas Savander and Tero Ojanperä, heads of Nokia's Markets and Sevrices units respectively, and chief development officer Kai Öistämö, will likely be leaving the company. All three were born in Finland and served under Elop's predecessor Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.

Perhaps more notably, Nokia's mobile phones head and executive board member since 2004 Mary McDowell has also been named as a victim of the reshuffle as Elop takes firm action to turn around Nokia's declining handset fortunes.

The report noted that the restructuring will extend beyond Nokia's executive board; the vendor has engaged recruiters to find a new head of operating systems and a new R&D head with a strong background in software.

The move comes as the mobile industry waits to learn how Nokia plans to re-establish itself as a global powerhouse in the devices sector. Nokia sold 123.7 million devices worldwide in the fourth quarter of last year, down 3% on the year-ago quarter. According to Strategy Analytics, that pushed its Q4 market share down to 31%, from 36.8% a year earlier; for the full year, Nokia claimed 33.3% of the market, down from 36.9% in 2009.

Meanwhile, late last month Canalys released numbers that showed Nokia has lost its dominant position in the crucial smartphone space. Handsets based on the Android operating system took a 33% share of the smartphone market in Q4, according to the analyst firm, compared with 31% for Nokia's Symbian.

However, Nokia could be about to capitalise on the popularity of Android.

Speaking on the vendor's recent results call, Elop hinted that he is about to instigate a change of direction and partner with one or more of Symbian's operating system rivals. Using Android would give the vendor more traction in the mid and low-end smartphone space, although a tie-up with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is also not out of the question. The industry expects an announcement on Friday.

At the top end, Nokia is likely to stick with its under-development MeeGo operating system. We are also expecting further details of MeeGo's progress on Friday, including the potential unveiling of devices based on the OS. If online sightings late last month are anything to go by, a MeeGo-based tablet is due for launch in the near future. The vendor is also working on mobile handsets powered by MeeGo.

In addition to handset launches and executive changes, Elop is also likely to share his vision for Nokia's future in certain key markets. Of particular importance is the U.S., where Nokia was left behind as the country's domestic players established themselves at the forefront of the smartphone revolution.

If Nokia is to reverse the downward trend in its fortunes, it is imperative that it capture the interest of the U.S. public. The key to that could, of course, be Android.

Источник: Total Telecom

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