Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is on hand at MWC this week to help spread the company's message to business partners, carriers, and the press. Ever gregarious and approachable, Elop gave us a few minutes of his time today to discuss the first year of Nokia's transition, which got started with the announcement of a strategic alliance with Microsoft in February 2011. He was candid about the downsides of this fundamental change in strategy, noting the number of jobs Nokia has had to cut in an effort to streamline operations.
Today, Nokia remains very much in the middle of its transition, says Elop, but a lot has been accomplished in those short twelve months. His present assessment of the decision to move to Windows Phone is no less sanguine than it was a year ago:
"One year later, after making our big decisions about strategy, I am more confident than ever that we made the right decisions."
Nokia's impact on the development of the Windows Phone OS and ancillary services is only now starting to be felt and there's a lot more that the company will look to contribute to the effort. Moreover, with Microsoft building up an entire ecosystem around the Metro style UI — with Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Xbox Live — Elop believes there's great opportunity to expand Nokia's influence beyond the smartphone but isn't willing to announce anything quite yet. Needless to say, he's taking a long hard look at how Nokia can be a player in the tablet space.
On the topic of the great variety of phones introduced at MWC 2012, including those from Nokia itself, Elop had a terse and sage response: "but which ones will you remember?" Admittedly, a lack of differentiation is a criticism that can fairly be levied at Nokia's own Asha range, but Elop's statement was directed toward the 808 PureView, his company's spectacular new cameraphone. A lot of people have wondered why it's being introduced on the Symbian platform and his answer is that it's a disruptive (and memorable) technology that Nokia simply had to get out into the market.
Finally, when I asked him about Microsoft's "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign, Elop grinned widely and opined that it's exactly the sort of aggressive and evocative promotion that the platform needs. It brings the sometimes esoteric spec sheet into the real world by comparing devices on the basis of a routine, daily task. He's a fan.