We had the chance to sit down with several members of Nokia's senior leadership at Nokia World 2011. The London event saw the launch of Nokia's first series of Windows Phone handsets, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, marking a major milestone in the company's transition that began on February 11th, 2011. At the forefront of the endeavor is Stephen Elop, the North American-born CEO who famously said that Nokia was standing on a "burning platform" prior to his decision to abandon the MeeGo and Symbian operating systems for the warm embrace of Microsoft's ready-made ecosystem.In addition to Elop, we also sat down with Jo Harlow, Executive VP Smart Devices; Marko Ahitsaari, Senior VP of Design; and Kevin Shields, Senior Vice President of Program & Product management for the Smart Device. We even had a chat with Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Windows Phone.Topics included Android, the prospects of a Nokia tablet, Symbian, lessons learned from the N9, and Nokia's historical difficulties with US carriers. But that's just a taste of what you'll find in the series of interviews below.
Oct 31, 2011
This week, members of The Verge team sat down with Kevin Shields, a Microsoft (and Windows Phone) veteran who enthusiastically helped introduce the Lumia 800 on stage at Nokia World's day one keynote session after having recently joined Nokia as the company's senior vice president of programming and product management for smart devices. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore - vice president of Windows Phone program management, and a guy you might call the very face of Windows Phone - unexpectedly dropped in on the meeting, which made for a pretty fascinating, entertaining, and informative exchange.Read Article >
We were able to cover a lot of ground in the 30-odd minute interview, ranging from Nokia's push into lower-end markets to its influence on Windows Phone's roadmap, the "N9 effect," and the company's ambitions in the tablet arena.
Jo now holds the title of Executive VP of Smart Devices. As a direct report to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Harlow has responsibility for Windows Phone development as well as the Symbian and MeeGo platforms and gear and entertainment businesses. That puts Harlow very much at the center of Nokia's transition strategy.Read Article >
When asked to clarify Nokia's Symbian to Windows Phone transition strategy by region, Jo explained that Symbian would end its very meager Symbian presence in the US early next year. "As we launch Windows Phone, that will really be the Nokia platform in North America," she said. Jo's boss is helping to pave the way with US carriers:
Stephen covered a wide range of topics including Nokia’s intent to introduce a "portfolio of products" into the US in early 2012. He’s clear that it’s not just carrier negotiations holding back the US launch but a confluence of other factors including a need to ramp up factories, supply lines, and support; localized customizations; and the technologies and services required by the US consumer. Nokia wants to introduce quality devices around the world as smoothly as possible, he insists, with a focus on delivering a premium user experience.Read Article >
The straight-talking CEO also responded to recent criticisms from Android chief, Andy Rubin. Last week, Rubin said that Windows Phone could be "very dangerous for Microsoft" with Redmond’s hardware partners — including Nokia — on a path to repeat history as the modern equivalents of the commodified beige box. Stephen’s response was swift and critical, highlighting the fact that Microsoft doesn’t dominate the phone business as it did PCs, so it relies upon its hardware partners for innovation. He then commented on the Android user experience: