Back in business again
Traditionally the opening keynote of Nokia World would be given by the CEO. But seeing as it was announced that Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo would be moving on late last week, that meant a last-minute replacement had to be called in, with the short straw being drawn by EVP of markets (the top sales exec) - Niklas Savander (pictured below).
There was the usual self-promoting corporate fare to start off with, but Savander wasted little time before addressing Nokia's widely perceived weakness in the smartphone market. Stressing that Nokia invented the smartphone, he trotted out the stat that more Nokia smartphones were sold last quarter that Apple and Android ones combined.
Savander claimed Nokia still has 40 percent of the smartphone market and that it sells 260,000 smartphones daily. Like his soon-to-depart colleague Anssi Vanjoki, he stressed how new and improved Symbian is these days, and claimed market leadership in navigation. Comparing Ovi Maps to Google Maps, he claimed the latter doesn't have pedestrian navigation. Funny, Google says it does.
To sign off, Savander said the N8 has already experienced the highest level of online pre-orders in Nokia's history and concluded "Nokia is back". To us, that last statement was a surprisingly frank admission that the world's number one mobile phone maker has been under-performing.
Nokia has gone from the cool brand that you saw in the Matrix to one that is associated with a bygone era of mobile telephony with its failure to keep up with the smartphone revolution. And most importantly, its chosen operating system - Symbian - has a massive image problem, with people increasingly tending to write-off Symbian devices without even having a good look at them.
MeeGo - its OS joint-effort with Intel - barely got a mention in this keynote, but Nokia must be feeling that its best hope of catching up with iOS and Android lies in that direction. Meanwhile Nokia will continue to insist that Symbian has lot to offer. We're off now to see for ourselves if he has a point.