Nokia chief stresses need for speed

Nokia will need to more quickly transition to a services provider as it strives to keep pace in the mobile market, according to the chief executive of the world's largest handset maker.

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekk Kallasvuo laid out Nokia's priorities for 2010, and also opined on several trends and rumors floating around the industry. Regarding Nokia's own strategy, he argued the company has been proactive on building innovative software and services for mobile devices, but acknowledged criticism that it needs to do more.

"I think 2010 will turn out to be an extremely important year, when I believe we will be able to take to the marketplace some of the services concepts and content delivery mechanisms that we have invested in during 2008 and 2009," he said. "So, yes, we have to move even faster. We have to transform the company even faster. That's fair. But in fact I think we have shown quite a lot of progress here."

Nokia last year launched its Ovi Store and its free Ovi Maps service, which offers turn-by-turn navigation and has been downloaded more than 3 million times as of mid-February. Nokia pushed past its target of 80 million users of its Internet services for 2009, ending the year with around 86 million services users, according to a January Reuters report, which cited unnamed sources with direct knowledge of the figures.

Kallasvuo said Nokia will focus this year on its alliance with Microsoft to put enterprise applications on its Symbian platform. He said the main benefits of the partnership will be realized in 2011.

The Nokia chief also touched on the prospects for Palm, which has been struggling to hold its footing in the smartphone market. "Overall if you look at the mobile devices industry, and the size and complexity of it, in the past it has been difficult for a smaller company to have a sustainable position ... and the amounts you need to invest are big," he said when asked what will happen to Palm. "In addition to innovation and quality, you need scale." He declined to speculate about whether Nokia would consider buying Palm.

As for Nokia's partnership with its erstwhile enemy Qualcomm, Kallasvuo said he sees Qualcomm as a potential future partner. In February, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that Nokia will build a Symbian smartphone this year using Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, but Kallasvuo declined to comment on that.

For more:
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