Nokia shows leadership

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo didn't wear a black sweater. He didn't have the stage to himself. And he didn't produce a hotly-awaited new product from his pocket.


But the Nokia CEO's pitch at 3GSM Monday - the first since the unveiling of the iPhone - pushed the buttons of the Nokia faithful just as truly Steve Jobs did for the Apple crowd at Macworld a month ago.


Instead of introducing just one phone, Kallasvuo showed off six.  Instead of ignoring the iPhone, he made a point of praising it.


He said it reflected Nokia's view that the era of the single-purpose devices such as MP3 players and PDAs is drawing to a close. 


"I'm convinced [handsets] will become the main platform for connecting to the Internet," he told a packed hall in Barcelona.


Two other points marked the difference between the two figures. One was that Kallasvuo speaks with the authority of the established market leader.


Already, 800 million people own Nokia mobile phones.  Worldwide 978 million handsets were sold last year, and he predicts that would grow 10% in 2007. The global number will top three billion this year and 4 billion by 2010, Kallasvuo predicted.


The other was the breadth of product and user experience that Nokia embraces. Three of the new devices shown off by Kallasvuo were for prosumer or business users. Another was for the emerging segment of mobile TV, powered by Nokia's preferred standard, DVB-H. Yet another was its first with advanced location-based capabilities.


But Kallasvuo was sure to remind the audience of the company's role in mobile, stressing that it was "driving the change, taking a lead in harnessing this new connectivity."


And while he admitted that the iPhone would stimulate innovation, he said the combinations of functions seen in the iPhone "are commonplace in Nokia phones and  computers."