Nokia Chairman Resigns: A Tale of Regrets, Mistakes and (Im)Possible Recovery?

By Jonathan Charles | May 04, 2012 12:45 PM EDT

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For 14 years, Nokia was the number one cell phone maker in the world. The man behind that success has now resigned, admitting mistakes were made during his tenure.

That man is Jorma Ollia, who told shareholders at Nokia's annual general meeting on Thursday, that the company's performance was below-par as it pushes Windows Phone devices alongside Microsoft.

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"The transformation period is truly painful. We cannot be satisfied with our economic performance or that so many Nokia workers have had to leave the company because of the changes," he said.

Ollia was Nokia CEO from 1992-2006, and Chairman from 1999. He revealed the company has not been able to develop the necessary ecosystems and technology, despite knowing the Internet would be in "everyone's pockets." He is being succeeded as Chairman by Risto Siilasmaa, who founded Data Fellows in 1998, which later became security company F-Secure.

Around the time when Nokia was moving from Meego and Symbian to Windows Phone, the company laid off 10,000 employees and has not ruled out more cutbacks. The company is aiming to save €1 billion ($1.31 billion) by 2013.

The decline has halved the share price over the last 12 months, dropping to €2.98 ($3.91) in April 2012 - a 15-year low. The company announced a 30 percent drop in sales in Q1 2012. Analysts said the company was no longer the number one mobile phone maker as Samsung claimed that spot.

The company's poor performance also caused its credit rating to be downgraded by Standard and Poor, who said it could be downgraded again if Nokia's performance doesn't improve. Other rating agencies, such as Fitch and Moody, rated Nokia at junk and near junk respectively.

As part of a transition to develop Windows Phone devices, the first non-Finnish CEO - Stephen Elop, formerly of Microsoft - joined Nokia. Nokia has launched several Lumia devices since, the most recent being the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T in the U.S. The brand has sold more than two million devices since October 2011, and analysts predicted the Lumia 900 would sell a million devices in Q2 2012.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Dave Clark)

 

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