Confirmed: Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila to Step Down in 2012
Nokia’s (NOK) annual Nokia World conference in London this week is proving more of a showcase for the company’s leadership and strategic woes than it is for new hardware. On its eve Nokia replaced its CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Stephen Elop, the head of Microsoft’s business unit, and announced the departure of Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki, a longtime key exec who just a few months back was named head of the Mobile Solutions unit. Now, on the event’s first day, Nokia confirmed that longtime board chairman Jorma Ollila plans to step down in 2012.
An odd way to kick off Nokia World, the event at which the company traditionally touts its latest handsets and a particularly important one this year, given the company’s struggle for relevance in the smartphone market and the deterioration of its market share in regions where it once had a stranglehold.
These high-level management changes will almost certainly overshadow the company’s hardware announcements, but perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps the real message of this year’s Nokia World is that Nokia is serious enough about its transformation that it’s willing to make some hard choices. As Niklas Savander, EVP of the company’s Markets unit said today, “We’re not going to apologise for the fact that we’re not Apple (AAPL) or Google (GOOG) or anybody else – we’re Nokia and we’re unique. Nokia’s going through a tough, challenging transition and we have a lot more work to do. But we have laid the foundation for success. I recognise that we haven’t been as competitive as we want to be in smartphones. Well, that’s about to change. Today, we shift in to high gear in Nokia’s fightback in smartphone leadership. Today is about the here and now, about three words. Nokia is back.”