Finnish cell phone giant Nokia Friday picked a former Microsoft software head to lead what it termed a ‘renewal and transformation’ in the face of increasing pressure from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform. Stephen Elop, former leader of Microsoft’s Business Division, will assume the CEO chair from outgoing Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo September 21.
“The time is right to accelerate the company’s renewal; to bring in new executive leadership with different skills and strengths in order to drive company success,” Jorma Ollila, Chairman of Nokia’s Board of Directors, announced. Elop’s “strong software background and proven record in change management will be valuable assets as we press harder to complete the transformation of the company,” he added.
Although Nokia’s Symbian Operating System remains the leading cell phone OS, its place is being chipped-away by Apple’s iOS and Google. Earlier Friday, Gartner released a report claiming the Android platform by 2012 would challenge Symbian as the world’s most popular mobile OS.
The changing make-up of the cell phone industry was also highlighted in August when two reports suggested Apple and Android were dominating a market increasingly composed of smartphones, an area where Nokia experienced trouble competing.
Out of the courtroom, Nokia suffered several embarrassing headlines in 2010 at the hands of Apple, including closing the cell phone giant’s London flagship retail location, along with sites in New York, Chicago and elsewhere. In 2009, Apple surpassed Nokia as the most profitable cell phone maker, earning a $1.6 billion quarterly profit versus Nokia’s $1.1 billion.