Nokia chairman promises tablets, 'hybrid' smart devices

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will release tablets and "hybrid" form factor devices, according to the handset maker's outgoing chairman, Jorma Ollila, though he did not say when Nokia will unveil these devices.

Nokia Jorma Ollila

Ollila

Ollila said that while Nokia was too slow in responding to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and other smartphones, the company is changing. In an interview with the Financial Times, he praised Nokia's partnership with Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and said the company is executing faster, and that new products and services will "make a difference" for the company.

"Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors [handset designs] in the future," Ollila, who is stepping down after 27 years with Nokia, told the FT. Nokia has long said it might produce a tablet if it was a distinctly Nokia product. It is widely assumed that Nokia will produce a Windows 8 tablet, especially because the Metro UI in Windows Phone features prominently in Windows 8.

Nokia shareholders are scheduled to vote on Ollila's replacement, Nokia board member Risto Siilasmaa.

Ollila's comments come at a difficult time for Nokia. Last week, analyst reports confirmed that Samsung eclipsed Nokia as the world's largest handset maker by volume, a title Nokia had held for 14 years. Credit ratings agencies are downgrading Nokia to junk status amid falling sales. Ollila said he has seen at least five crises overtake Nokia during his tenure, including a crisis meeting demand in 1995, and said that Nokia, despite its current troubles, will survive.

"Look outside, the first of May, snow is just about gone but you learn to be pretty down to earth as you know in October it will be back again," he said. "Yes, there are challenges. The company is going through a transition that it has to carry out and [CEO] Stephen [Elop] is handling it really well."

Meanwhile, Siilasmaa said he is confident in the turnaround currently underway. "It's no secret that Nokia is going through a very difficult period," he told reporters ahead of the shareholders' meeting. "It's difficult for us as shareholders, it's difficult for employees and as Finns, but I'm certain we have the right team, the right strategy and increasingly the right products to emerge as a successful company," he added.

For more:
- see this FT article
- see this separate FT article
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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