The fact that Nokia announced a 9 per cent decline in fourth-quarter operating profits--slightly less than many doom-mongers anticipated--surprised only the uninformed. What did catch the industry's attention was CEO Stephen Elop's admission that he believed the battlefield had shifted from devices to the ecosystem.
"The industry changed, and now it's time for Nokia to change faster," Elop said in a statement.
On the company's earnings conference call, Elop said that mobile ecosystems represented the broad convergence of the mobility, computing and services industries. Of note, he saw a new type of ecosystem emerging around mid-range to low-end devices in developing markets involving very low-cost components and manufacturing processes.
"In this range, brand, scale, price, design, distribution and speed are critical," he said. "We must believe that our strategy simultaneously increases our success in markets where we are strong, while re-opening doors in markets where we are weak."
This statement could be interpreted as Nokia now focusing away from high-end devices targeting low-priced smartphones at markets in emerging countries where it remains dominant.
But Elop perhaps added to this speculation by stating that Nokia would focus on using its location services, like Life Tools, in emerging markets, together with its Ovi Store, which was now recording around four million downloads per day from more than 30,000 apps. he also added fuel to speculation that Nokia might adopt Google's Android platform or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 by talking about the need to "build, catalyze or join a competitive ecosystem."
While the CEO focused on the company's fourth quarter results, little information was provided for where the company might go this year. However, Elop promised to present detailed long-range plans for boosting Nokia's competitive situation at an investors' meeting to be held in Londonon 11 Feb.
This is just prior to Mobile World Congress and could steal the thunder from other exhibitors and set analysts' tongues wagging.
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