Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President of Nokia, recently announced plans to leave the company within six months, but don't expect him to do it quietly. Speaking to the Financial Times, Vanjoki revealed why Nokia won't switch from Symbian to Android.
Doing so, he said, is no different than the Finnish boys who "pee in their pants" to stay warm during the cold winter months. That bears repeating. Smartphone makers who use Android are doing the equivalent of pissing their pants to stay warm.
We'll have to dig through the archives, but Anssi Vanjoki may have just topped Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, who once promised to open a can of whoop ass on the competition, as the most outspoken, uncensored executive in the tech industry.
We could offer some more commentary, but quite frankly, trying to follow a quote like that is like pissing in the wind.
The whole high-end smartphone thing might be a bit more challenging than Nokia thought. After having rolled out its N8 smartphone in the Netherlands, it looks as though a global release is being pushed back so that Nokia can work on the phone's buggy software, according to reports.
It's unclear exactly what these issues are, only that they're apparently serious enough to warrant holding off on releasing the N8 stateside (and elsewhere) to at least October, with some rumors suggesting you'll have to wait until November.
The software glitches couldn't have come at a worse time for Nokia, which is trying establish a major presence in the high-end smartphone market. According to Nokia, demand for the N8 has been high, saying "The amount of preorders has exceeded our expectations and we are working hard to deliver th Nokia N8 to the market."
Things are a little bit crazy over at Nokia right now. The world's No. 1 mobile phone maker on Friday showed Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo the door after serving four years as the company's chief executive, a position that was filled by Stephon Elop, the former lead dude in Microsoft's Office product line.
Nokia wants desperately to become a viable player in the smartphone market and not just an also-ran, but before the company can do that, it will now have to find a replacement for Anssi Vanjoki, the Executive Vice President and a member of Nokia Group Executive Board, who has handed in his resignation just one day before Nokia World, the company's big time annual event. This is the same guy some people had pegged as the potential Steve Jobs of Nokia.
"I felt the time has come to seek new opportunities in my life," Anssi Vanjoki said in a statement. "At the same time, I am one hundred percent committed to doing my best for Nokia until my very last working day. I am also really looking forward to this year's Nokia World and sharing news about exciting new devices and solutions."
Vanjoki, who currently heads Nokia's Mobile Solutions unit, gave Nokia six months notice.
Nokia's search for a new CEO is over. The company found its replacement in Stephen Elop, a 46-year-old Canadian citizen and former President of Microsoft's Business Division, the same unit that's in charge of the Microsoft Office suite.
Elop took the Microsoft position in January 2008, and prior to that he served as CEO for network infrastructure company Juniper Networks. Now he's tasked with restoring Nokia back to relevance in the smartphone market.
"I am extremely excited to become part of a team dedicated to strengthening Nokia's position as the undisputed leader of the mobile communications industry, with a relentless focus on meeting the needs and expectations of customers," Elop said in Nokia's statement. "Nokia has a unique global position as well as a great brand upon which we can build. The company has deeply talented and dedicated people, and I am confident that together we can continue to deliver innovative products that meet the needs of consumers. The Nokia slogan clearly states our key mission: Connecting People, which will acquire new dimensions as we build our portfolio of products, solutions and services."
Elop can certainly talk the talk, but walking the walk won't be easy. Restoring the company's smartphone business isn't just about the hardware, Elop also has to figure out how to make the Ovi Store more competitive with the Android Market and Apple's App Store, and turn Symbian into a viable smartphone OS.
Nokia leads the world in cell phone shipments, but they're not the first manufacturer that comes to mind when shopping smartphones. Companies like Apple, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung stand in the smartphone lime light, and Nokia would like nothing more than to join them.
Towards that end, Nokia is gearing up to introduce several new smartphones next week, according to a Reuters report. Among the new models will be the E7, Nokia's new flagship smartphone with a fairly large touchscreen and hardware keyboard.
Another new model slated for release is the N8, the first phone to sport the Symbian 3 platform.
"As the N8 starts shipping and other devices are unveiled, Nokia will be hoping that it can lay the foundation stones for its recovery given the onslaught of competitive products currently hitting the market," said Ben Wood, director of research at CSS Insight. "It has made some big commitments on fixing Symbian and its first flagship product using the refreshed Symbian operating system. Failure is not an option.
Part of the challenge for Nokia will be in convincing developers to create apps for the Symbian platform, which so far hasn't been as easy as one might imagine considering Symbian's dominating mobile phone market share.
If Intel had its way every single device on the planet would be powered by one of its processors, but one thing is holding them back from world domination, namely their dependence on x86 architectures. ARM Processors have proven to be the faster and more power efficient design for mobile up until now, leaving Intel to spectate jealously from the sidelines. So how will Intel find its way inside some of the most coveted consumer devices on the planet? Well, if recent rumors are true than a few billion out of the war chest to buy Germany-based Infineon might just do the trick.
Infineon chips show up in mobile products from Nokia, Samsung, and even Apple which power everything from the 3G radios to the interface chips for high resolution cameras. These critical pieces of hardware don’t get the same level of press as the A4, but are just as important to the final package. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is that Intel is more or less buying back technology that they invented and sold off to Marvell back in 2006.
Intel has a fair bit of work to do before it can become entrenched in mobile platforms, but an acquisition of Infineon would be a positive first step buying them a valuable chunk of PCB real estate inside the iPad and iPhone 4.
The impact of long term exposure to cellphone radiation is still largely unknown, but all the evidence up until now lends credence to the fact that you probably have better things to worry about. San Francisco lawmakers disagree however, and a controversial new law that forced retailers to display radiation levels of different handsets has the CTIA pulling them into court. “The CTIA's objection to the ordinance is that displaying a phone's SAR value at the point-of-sale suggests to the consumer that there is a meaningful safety distinction between FCC-compliant devices with different SAR levels," it said in a statement.
According to CTIA officials the new law supersedes the FCC’s authority to regulate radio emissions, and is misleading for consumers who ultimately haven’t been properly educated as to what the SAR ratings actually mean. Some have been tempted to lump cellphone manufacturers in with the tobacco industry who lied to customers for years about the dangers of smoking, but this is a bit misleading as well. Independent labs have backed up the fact that cellphone radiation levels as they are mandated today are considered safe and in some cases might even be beneficial.
Only time will tell if the law will hold up in court, but at the end of the day perhaps it will encourage manufactures to voluntarily lower radiation levels. Studies show it probably won’t help, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Looking for a career change? If you have the right background, perhaps you can land a gig at Nokia as the new chief executive. Word on the Web is that Nokia is looking to hire a new CEO, which won't come as good news to Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the current CEO struggling to keep the company relevant in the growing smartphone wars.
Nokia still sells more cell phones than anyone else, but hasn't been able to keep up with the likes of Apple, HTC, and others who are active in the smartphone arena.
"They are serious about making a change," The Wall Street Journal quoted a person familiar with matter as saying.
WSJ's source says that Nokia is "supposed to make a decision by the end of the month," which now looms just around the corner.
Motorola managed to find a company willing to purchase its wireless network business, and that company is Nokia Siemens, who has agreed to cough up $1.2 billion for it, the two companies announced this week.
"This is an exciting acquisition that I believe has significant benefits for customers, employees and our shareholders," said Rajeev Suri, Chief Executive Officer of Nokia Siemens Networks. "Motorola’s current customers will continue to get world-class support for their installed base and a clear path for transitioning to next generation technologies while employees will join an industry leader with global scale and reach. Nokia Siemens Networks will see the benefits of a deal that is expected to enhance profitability and cash-flow and to have significant upside potential."
The deal nets Nokia around 50 more customers, while also strengthening its position with China Mobile, Clearwire, KDDI, Sprint, Verizon, and Vodafone, Nokia said.
As part of the deal, Motorola will shuttle about 7,500 employees to Nokia, including large research and development sites in the U.S., China, and India.
Apple took a pretty risky approach by pointing the finger at competitors in response to perceived antenna issues on the iPhone 4, and both RIM and Nokia are fighting back. According to Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion: "Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation." The strongly worded statement urges Apple to take responsibility for their poor design decisions, and reminds everyone they don't need a case to get the most out of a Blackberry.
Nokia wasn't specifically named by Apple at the press conference, but they still took advantage of the situation to remind everyone that antenna design is the most important design consideration they make. "In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That's why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design." The most damning statement in Nokia's release was "we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."
Steve Jobs may have believed that he could take the spotlight off the iPhone problems by naming a few competitors with the same issue, but all he did was draw a bullseye on his back attracting the ire of some pretty big names within the wireless industry. Gutsy move.