What makes him powerful: Dominating the worldwide smartphone market is no longer enough for Nokia president and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo--his mandate is to transform the company into a true multimedia superpower commanding the futures of the mobile web, mobile music and mobile gaming. Nokia's metamorphosis has dominated headlines for close to two years now: In 2007 alone, the firm reintroduced its N-Gage mobile gaming platform, premiered its MOSH mobile social network, acquired mobile advertising provider Enpocket, rolled out its Internet services brand Ovi, purchased navigation software developer Navteq and announced the pending launch of Comes With Music, an all-you-can-eat music download service. The pace has continued throughout 2008, with the introduction of new mobile advertising initiatives and even a mobile TV channel, Capsule N96.
But perhaps the most significant break with Nokia's past came this June, when the company announced it will acquire the remaining shares of mobile software licensing firm Symbian Limited and team with Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DoCoMo to consolidate the Symbian OS, S60, UIQ and MOAP technologies into a single open mobile software platform. While the move is clearly intended to counter the threat posed by Google's open-source Android mobile operating system, there's no doubt Nokia is at a crossroads even without a single Android-based phone on the market. Nokia continues to lead global smartphone sales, claiming a 47.5 percent marketshare in the second quarter according to research firm Gartner, but its year-over-year growth was about half of the market average, courtesy of increased competition from Research In Motion and Apple.
The greatest challenge facing Kallasvuo's remixed Nokia: Co-existing with mobile operators as it evolves from collaborator to direct competitor. The same carriers offering Nokia handsets to their subscribers also offer their own mobile media services, of course, and already operators in the U.K. have vowed not to offer Comes With Music when the service makes its British debut this month, citing their objections with Nokia's proposed profit-sharing agreement as well as the increased data traffic that unlimited music downloads portend. Ovi has already experienced similar resistance from operators across the globe intent on keeping mobile web revenues all to themselves. Reshaping Nokia is one thing--time will tell if Kallasvuo can reshape the mobile multimedia landscape as well.