Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO, participated in a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) this morning on his first day as head of Microsoft’s Devices group.
Elop, a former Microsoft exec before he was named Nokia CEO, became head of the Devices group following the closing Friday of Microsoft’s $7.5 billion purchase of Nokia’s handset division.
Here are some of the highlights of the AMA, which can be found on the Nokia (now Microsoft, I guess) Conversations site:
* On the accusation by some that Elop acted as Microsoft’s “Trojan horse” within Nokia:
As a result of the work that we have done, we have transformed Nokia into a stronger company with NSN, HERE and Advanced Technologies. At the same time, our Devices and Services business has a new opportunity within a stronger Microsoft. As for the Trojan horse thing, i have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member.
* On whether Microsoft’s smartphones will still carry the Nokia brand or whether it will use the name “Microsoft Mobile.” (Legally speaking, Nokia’s Devices and Services business was sold to the Microsoft subsidiary, Microsoft Mobile Oy.)
Microsoft Mobile Oy is a legal construct that was created to facilitate the merger. It is not a brand that will be seen by consumers. The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phones products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand.
* On whether there will be a Microsoft-branded smartphone anytime soon:
Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. While we are not ready to share precise details, i can assure you that it will not be the “Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network” … too many words! That somehow doesn’t roll off the tongue…
* On whether Android on Nokia is a good idea. (Nokia introduced its first Android-based phones — the Nokia X line — earlier this year. While the phone runs a version of the Android operating system, the services it links to are Microsoft’s and Nokia’s, rather than Google’s.):
When we made the decision to focus on Windows Phone back in 2011, we were very concerned that a decision to pursue Android would put us on a collision course with Samsung, who already had established a head of steam around Android. That was the right decision, as we have seen virtually all other OEMs from those days pushed to the side. Today, we are using AOSP to attack a specific market opportunity, but we are being thoughtful to do it in a way that accrues benefit to Microsoft and to Lumia.
* On whether Microsoft’s products will get more colorful (a trait of Nokia’s products, including its Lumia line of Windows Phones), now that Nokia has joined the company:
You may have seen a video today on youtube that celebrated Nokia’s arrival within Microsoft, and the theme was “more colorful”. Here in Espoo today we are all wearing the bright colors of our devices. I’m pretty sure you will see this “colorful” personality transcend into MSFT.
* In reply to an AMA participant who asked: “You’re so cool killed Nokia …Thanks to you, Meego, Symbian, Meltemi buried …”:
Thanks, I know that there is a lot of emotion around some of the hard decisions that we had to make. Back in late 2010 and 2011, we carefully assessed the state of the internal Nokia operating system efforts. Unfortunately, we could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped THREE years earlier! And the Meego effort was significantly delayed and did not have the promise of a broad enough portfolio soon enough. We had to make a forceful decision to give Nokia the chance to compete again.
* On whether Elop delayed the “decision of jumping the burning platform.” (Elop had issued an internal Nokia memo in 2011, in which he compared the company to a man on a burning oil platform, facing either jumping or being consumed by flames.):
It’s hard to comment on what came before, but I do know that the “burning platform” galvanized the mindset of thousands of employees with the recognition that we faced a critical situation. We brought urgency into the organization and within 6 months we produced our first two Windows Phone devices. This was faster than we had ever gone before and marked the beginning of our cultural change.