Nokia appoints Microsoft business chief as CEO

Finnish mobile device giant Nokia has appointed the former head of Microsoft’s business division Stephen Elop as its new CEO.

Elop will become the vendor’s first non-Finnish CEO, replacing Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo who had led the Espoo-headquartered business for the past four years.

As CEO, Elop’s most pressing challenge will be rapidly mounting competition in the smartphone market from Apple’s iPhone and the various handsets based on Google’s Android operating system.

According to telecommunications industry analyst Canalys, Nokia currently leads the global market for smartphones (although estimates differ according to the definition of a smartphone). It is losing share to Apple and Android-based devices, however.

IT industry analyst Gartner questioned whether a former executive from Microsoft – a company that has also struggled in the smartphone market – has the experience needed to combat this growing competition.

"Microsoft has many of the same problems as Nokia in terms of innovation, especially in the smartphone business," wrote Nick Jones in a blog post. "Steve Elop is an American – which the investors will like – but I’m not sure he brings any specific skills that will fix Nokia’s challenges."

Prior to joining Nokia, Elop had been mooted as a candidate for the CEO role at Hewlett-Packard, which has been vacant since Mark Hurd stepped down in August.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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