Nokia CTO steps down over strategic differences

9 Jun 2011

The CTO of Nokia has taken a leave of absence from the company and is unlikely to return due to disagreements over strategy. The news comes amid rumours that Samsung may be interested in buying the ailing Finnish mobile giant.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Samomat, CTO Richard Green was unhappy with management decisions that include abandoning the MeeGo operating system in favour of Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS.

Nokia has confirmed Green has left the company to deal with personal matters and declined to comment further.

This hasn’t been an easy couple of years for Nokia by any stretch of the imagination.

While the company still sells more phones than any other manufacturer on the planet, it has had to witness its marketshare erode under competitive pressure from manufacturers of smartphones, such as Apple’s iPhone, and devices running Google’s Android OS.

Recent Gartner figures claim Nokia sold 107.6m mobile devices in the first quarter of 2011. Its marketshare declined 5.5 percentage points year-on-year, and its share has reached its lowest since 1997.

The future of Nokia

At a time when smartphones are beginning to outsell PCs, it must be particularly frustrating for the phone manufacturer’s employees and shareholders that pretty much invented the smartphone market.

Its decision in recent months to enter into an alliance with Microsoft to build phones based on the Microsoft Windows Phone OS isn’t being viewed yet as the company’s finest hour by any stretch of the imagination. The fruits of the alliance, however, may change that perception.

Nokia’s equity value halved to €17bn since Elop’s “burning oil platform” memo in February. The company recently reported an 18pc decline in revenues.

The company’s declining share price has also been a factor leading to speculation in recent days that the company may be a takeover target for South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung.

However, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has described the rumours as “baseless”, affirming it is not for sale.

S&P this week cut its debt rating for Nokia to BBB+/A-2 and placed it on its CreditWatch list.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years