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Entries in Nokia (9)


Nokia appoints fourth China CEO in three years

Nokia China and Huawei have both swapped out the heads of their handset operations – but that’s where the similarity ends.

Gustavo Eichelmann, Nokia’s China chief since the beginning of 2012, has left the company for “personal reasons”, Nokia announced Monday. He will be replaced by Erik Bertman, the head of Nokia Russia, effective June 1.

Eichelmann’s departure follows the collapse of Nokia’s share of China’s smartphone market last year – from market leader, with a 29.9% share in 2011, down to seventh with just 3.7% share.

Bertman, a Swedish national, is the fourth head of Nokia’s China business since the beginning of 2010.

He has the job ahead of him. Nokia’s global devices sales were down 32% year-on-year in Q1. Handset shipments were off 25% and smartphone shipments fell by a scary 49%.

As he wings his way to Beijing Bertman may cross paths with Wan Biao, Huawei’s terminals group CEO, who has just been sent to Moscow. In a promotion for Wan, he will head up all of Huawei's operations in Russia, one of the Huawei’s target ofshore markets.

Wan will be replaced by Yu Chengdong, who will retain his current title of chairman of the terminals unit.

In contrast with Nokia’s declining fortunes, the Huawei’s devices team is on a roll. Of course, the popularity of Huawei's affordable smartphones is one reason why Nokia is struggling.

Huawei boosted devices revenue 8.4% to $7.9 million last year and shipped 32 million smartphones. It’s aiming for 60 million this year.


Lumia has 35,000 Chinese apps 

Nokia and Microsoft now have more than 80,000 applications for their joint Windows Mobile platform, including 35,000 for China.


Olivier Puech, Nokia president Asia, said since the launch of Lumia in China in March, more than 5,500 local apps had been developed.




As MS gives up on Zune, Nokia warns on WP7 risks

A portent? Just as Nokia admits that its Windows Phone 7 strategy could cost it market share, its new partner has admitted defeat with Zune.

A Microsoft spokesman told Reuters the current 16GB and 32GB Zune music players would be the last, although the software would continue to be supported “across Microsoft platforms.”

Zune has been moderately well-reviewed but has gained negligible market share since debuting in 2006, ceding a five-year head start to the iPod.

With Zune, as with its latest mobile partnership, Microsoft was trying to win from a long way back. That’s a challenge when your targets are Apple and Google.

Technically, Nokia had the biggest smartphone market share in 2010 and, technically, Microsoft is actually one of the handset OS pioneers, with a (mostly-forgettable) record back to 2000.

But as Microsoft sees off Zune, Nokia has warned that its expected two-year transition to WP7  “may prove to be too long to compete effectively in the smartphone market.”

Nokia said in an SEC filing:

“The Windows Phone platform is a very recent, largely unproven addition to the market focused solely on high-end smartphones with currently very low adoption and consumer awareness relative to the Android and Apple platforms, and the proposed Microsoft partnership may not succeed in developing it into a sufficiently broad competitive smartphone platform.”

Nokia also cautions that the MS partnership may harm its brand identity and the company may be unable “to change our mode of working or culture to enable us to work effectively and efficiently with Microsoft.”

 Apart from that, it’s all good.


Android to the rescue

If you’re under 20 years old and not Japanese you might be surprised that Japan actually makes mobile phones.

Today only Sony Ericsson, half-owned by the Japanese electronics firm, sells phones in any volume outside the Japan market.

The disappearance of Japanese handset firms from the global stage is a business study on “how not to succeed” (and probably says a lot about the country’s wider economic retreat).

One reason has been the industry’s inability to refresh itself. Whereas western handset brands like Nortel, Alcatel and Siemens have disappeared or were sold off, only in the last 18 months have the Japanese players consolidated.

The other is because they decided to focus on the local market, building handsets to specs set by domestic operators - NTT DoCoMo in particular – perhaps in the belief that the rest of the world would follow.

In any case, the days of the narrow focus are over. Japanese handset guys are putting their faith in Android, the broadest church of them all.

Sharp, NEC, Kyocera and Sony Ericsson are all betting big on Android, the NT Times reports, noting that one of the shocks was the smash success of the iPhone, gaining 70% market share in a territory where foreign brands find it tough to get traction.

So Sharp is doing things it’s never done before, like opening up its lab and working with developers, and trying to focus on customers, not operators.

The combination of Android and Japanese hardware smarts is a natural one and, who knows, might propel one of the Japanese firms into the handset top ranks again.

But Gerhard Fasol, chief executive of Tokyo consultancy Eurotechnology, reminds that the Japanese firms are merely “soldiers in the Google army, with Google as king.”

Which also reminds that the Japanese firms are also missed recruiting targets for Nokia-Microsoft, who are well short of an army.


Mobile World Congress instant preview

The striking thing about the GSMA confab, which kicks off today, is the presence of virtually none of the web heavyweights with mobile ambitions. Here’s what to look for (or avoid):

Handset OS wars:  A current favourite, given new life by Nokia’s embrace of Microsoft, and extra spice from Elop’s insistence that RIM doesn’t exist. It will be handsets at 30 paces when Elop and RIM’s Jim Balsillie share a platform on Wednesday.

Mobile vs. the web: Another saga; Eric Schmidt played the baddie to perfection last year and is back again for more this year with a dedicated keynote session of his own. Respect! This year the other net-centirc speakers – Chambers, Otellini, Son and Bartz - have been bottled up into one session.

Mobile traffic loads: Vendors big and small are pitching ways of smoothing out groaning traffic levels on mobile networks. Alcatel-Lucent is promising to do away with the base station altogether.

New threats: Even for the continually-disrupted telcos, the latest challenges look especially stressful, with Apple plotting its own multi-SIM phone and Facebook and PlayStation also prepping handsets. None of those will be in Barcelona, nor will Google, Twitter or Skype; along with Apple (a perennial truant) these are the web firms that will most impact on mobile.

A quick glance at the MWC conference agenda will tell you what else is preying on the minds of operators: advertising (ie, how to make money out of it), social networking (ditto), mobile money (how not to get screwed by the banks), and innovation (how to get some).

Otherwise, a bog standard telecom industry conference, with delicious tapas not quite enough to make up for congested Wi-Fi and the steep hotel tariffs. At least the rip-off roaming rates will make the cellco guys feel at home.

Update: This post has been revised to reflect that Eric Schmidt was in fact a conference speaker (I missed that he was given his own late afternoon session!).  His presentation contained nothing new, apart from announcing a video editor for the Honeycomb version of Android and unsuccessfully trying to show a demo of it, according to Ovum.