Nokia CEO Says Takeover Talk Are Baseless

Posted by at 2:56 am on June 2, 2011

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s interview at D9 Wednesday night both tackled rumors of a Microsoft takeover and an explanation for why the iPhone ousted Nokia. Answering claims by Russian leaker Eldar Murtazin that Microsoft might buy Nokia’s phone division, Elop called them “baseless” and that talks had never happened. He added that smartphones were only half of Nokia’s business and would have left Microsoft with a large amount of phones that didn’t mesh with the Windows Phone strategy.

Observers had doubted the rumor from the start since it would have left little but Nokia’s Navteq maps business and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Elop also explained Nokia’s collapse in the US and ultimate defeat to the iPhone in the country as a two-stage process. The Finnish firm had peaked in 2004 with 30 to 40 percent of the market, but it gave that up when it refused to move to flip phones like the Motorola RAZR, he said. It got worse with the iPhone in 2007 as Nokia had given up its place and “wasn’t in a position to hear” the changes, which had moved innovation away from Europe and towards North America.

He hoped to have “changed that” both through the switch to Windows Phone and through specific efforts. There was now a Nokia team in San Diego designing a phone intended for the North American market.

Android, MeeGo, and Windows Phone were the only real platforms discussed in the OS switch, he added. Restating his earlier stance, Elop said. Android had been ruled out as it didn’t give Nokia enough potential to separate itself from the rest.

Regardless of the switch, Symbian was still surviving and leading to tens of millions of phones shipping every quarter, and could even be an advantage, according to the CEO. Since it could be used on “lower and lower” priced hardware, it could compete better at the low end than Android might. Google’s platform was more viable in the executive’s eyes at the high end.

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