Nokia’s Top Smartphone Exec Anssi Vanjoki Resigns

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In another significant management change at Nokia, the head of its smartphone division has resigned

Nokia has undergone its second major executive change as Anssi Vanjoki, the head of handset maker’s smartphone division, has stepped down.

Nokia executives here in London for the Nokia World 2010 conference, which starts 14 September, confirmed that Vanjoki had stepped down, just days before Microsoft executive Stephen Elop is slated to take over as CEO of the beleaguered cell phone leader.

Elop, who until 20 September is president of Microsoft’s Business Division, does not start at Nokia until 21 September. He was named to succeed Ollie-Pekka Kallasvuo as chief executive officer.

Market Share Worries

Though leading in the cell phone market, Nokia has been bleeding share, particularly in the market for the more lucrative high-end smartphones, as the iPhone and the fast-growing Android platform continue to gain share.

According to market research firm Gartner, in the second quarter of 2010 Nokia’s smartphone market share dropped to 37.5 percent, down from 45 percent for the same period the year before.

It is not known whether Vanjoki’s move was a pre-emptive one ahead of Elop’s arrival or whether he had hopes of his own for the CEO position. However, his announcement just a day before the opening of Nokia’s premier annual event for customers, partners and developers is a bit curious.

Yet, without saying what he will do next, Vanjoki said he is committed to giving six months to the job.

“I am one hundred percent committed to doing my best for Nokia until my very last working day,” Vanjoki said in a statement.

Resignation Statement

Nokia’s full statement on Vanjoki’s resignation reads:

“Nokia announced today that Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and a member of Nokia Group Executive Board has given notice of resignation from Nokia. Vanjoki, who currently heads Nokia’s Mobile Solutions unit, has six months notice period and he will continue in his current tasks for the time being.

“I felt the time has come to seek new opportunities in my life. 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.”

In a reorganisation in May, Nokia announced that its Mobile Solutions unit would be headed by Vanjoki and comprise MeeGo Computers, led by Alberto Torres, and Symbian Smartphones, led by Jo Harlow.

As part of the Mobile Solutions unit, Services – led by Tero Ojanpera – would continue to develop Ovi as an integrated service into smartphones and mobile computers, and lead the development and deployment of new services into Nokia’s mobile phones. Nokia also appointed former Sun Microsystems executive Rich Green to the position of chief technology officer, assuming responsibility for driving common technology architecture across Nokia. Green brings a wealth of experience from his time in Silicon Valley. He reports Vanjoki.

Vanjoki is a former 3M executive. He joined Nokia in 1991 as vice president of sales in the Mobile Phones unit.

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