Nokia strikes back with new phones for new bosses

Nokia unveiled the smartphones on Tues as it tries to win back market share from Apple & Blackberry.

London: Cellphone maker Nokia unveiled the smartphones its new management team will be fighting with on Tuesday, as it tries to win back market share from Apple and Blackberry.

The world`s biggest cellphone maker, Nokia is engaged in a major management revamp, with the departures of its chief executive and chairman announced last week and its top internal candidate for the CEO post resigning on Monday after an outsider was chosen for the job.

Nokia still controls around 40 percent of the global smartphone market volume, but has lost out to Apple and Research in Motion`s Blackberry in the fatter-margin market for the most expensive cellphone models.
"Today our fightback to smartphone leadership shifts into high gear," Niklas Savander, head of Nokia markets unit, said in a speech at the London launch. The new models -- E7, C7 and a new version of the C6 -- all come with large touchscreens and use the latest Symbian software.

"The products are a clear improvement ... but we know they are not where Nokia needs to be yet, and any other promise around `we are working on it` would have not convinced anyone," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. “A new CEO and the old guard stepping down might give investors more confidence that things are really changing."

The phones will go on sale before the end of the year at prices ranging from 260-495 euros, excluding subsidies and taxes. Last week, Nokia announced it was hiring Stephen Elop, a Microsoft executive with Silicon Valley credentials, to replace embattled chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo and renew its drive to compete with Apple.
Elop and Kallasvuo are not among speakers at Nokia`s annual top media show, Nokia World, which lasts until Wednesday. On Monday, Nokia`s smartphone and services chief Anssi Vanjoki -- an outspoken and respected figure in the mobile phone industry who was considered the most likely internal candidate to replace Kallasvuo -- announced his resignation.

Underlining the scale of the change, chairman Jorma Ollila, who led Nokia`s transformation from a rubber boots-to-TVs conglomerate into a mobile phones giant in the 1990s, said last week he would step down shortly.

Analysts said they did not expect the management change to have a quick impact on Nokia`s strategic plans. "In the midst of management turmoil Nokia is attempting to keep a steady hand on the tiller," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.
"Although many questions are being raised about its future strategic direction, in the near-term we expect the company to stick with the vision it has outlined today," Wood said.

Shares in Nokia were 1.9 percent lower at 7.75 euros by 0935 GMT, underperforming 0.1 percent softer European technology shares index.

Bureau Report

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