Nokia CEO Stephen Elop Commits To Windows Phone Amid Shareholder Unrest

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Nokia investors call for alternative strategy, but Stephen Elop says it will stick with Windows Phone

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has reiterated the company’s commitment to using the Windows Phone mobile operating system in its smartphones despite growing unrest among shareholders who want it to adopt an alternative strategy.

Speaking at Nokia’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Helsinki, Elop said that in a competitive market, Windows Phone would allow it to offer a differentiator in the battle against the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Nokia was once a market leader in smartphones, but saw its share slide following the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the advent of Android. It first announced plans to adopt Windows Phone in February 2011, with Elop saying the transition from Symbian to Windows Phone would last two years, a period that has now expired.

Nokia Windows Phone strategy

Nokia-Lumia-620-4Shareholders want Nokia to reconsider its WP7 stance and switch to another platform, most likely Android, to give it a better chance of reversing its fortunes. One investor said that although they acknowledged the management team was doing the best it could, the “road to hell is paved with good intentions”, suggesting the company could “switch to another road.”

Nokia’s share price has been hit accordingly with its decline in sales, but many Finnish investors are sentimental about the company, which has been a symbol of the country, especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, which was its main trading partner.

There has been some progress since adopting Windows Phone, however. Sales of Lumia handsets increased by 27 percent to 5.6 million during the first quarter of 2013, although this was not enough to prevent a loss of £128m.

One bright spot in recent years has been strong sales of Nokia’s feature phone range, but even this success has slowed, with mobile phone sales decreasing by 30 percent. However some analysts suggest feature phones could ensure the company’s survival, especially in emerging markets.

Nokia is already targeting those markets with its ever-expanding Nokia Asha range, with Elop saying the increased adoption of the mobile Internet in the developing world has the power to affect more people than the Industrial Revolution did in Europe during the 18th century.

The latest Windows Phone 8 handset to be released by the company, the Nokia Lumia 928, will be officially unveiled at an event in London next week, possibly alongside another handset, believed to be the Nokia Lumia 925.

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