Nokia CEO faces investor revolt: “Switch to another road” is demand

May 7, 2013
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Nokia CEO faces investor revolt: “Switch to another road” is demand

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop faces renewed criticism from shareholders this week, with attendees at the annual general meeting mincing no words in demanding the Finnish firm reconsider its devotion to Windows Phone. Elop conceded during the investor event that the Nokia leadership "make adjustments as we go," but insisted that Lumia and Windows Phone remained the best way forward, Reuters reports. That confidence wasn't enough to placate outspoken critics, however, with one questioning whether the chief exec was "aware that results are what matter."

"You're a nice guy ... and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," shareholder Hannu Virtanen said during the event. "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road."

Nokia has been clear that it is not preparing a "Plan B" in the wings should Windows Phone fail, instead focusing solely on pushing Microsoft's platform. That singular purpose isn't enough to convince investors and market watchers, however, leaving some suggesting that Nokia should abdicate from the high-end smartphone segment and instead focus on the mid-tier, picking up those buyers in emerging markets or upgrading from feature-phones.

"Maybe they could go back to Google and say we also want to go with Android" one Greenwich Consulting analyst suggested. "Even if it hurts. Microsoft, they've had their chances, and are not managing to take off."

Exactly what the split of support for and against Windows Phone ended up is unclear, but Nokia's share price shows the brunt of the ill feeling. Some investors admitted they still held the stock for "sentimental" reasons rather than good business sense; the share price is currently dawdling in the mid-$3 range.

Whether that will change any time soon depends largely on how well Nokia can convince the market it wants to open up for Windows Phone. The company announced losses of $196m in its most recent financial period, despite selling the most Lumia handsets it has in any previous quarter. That's still not enough to either buoy Windows Phone's niche in the market or satisfy analysts. "He's managed to decrease costs but not to increase market share" one pointed out.

Next up for Nokia is an event in India on Thursday, expected to see new, low-cost devices revealed for the developing markets, and then a Lumia event later in the month. That's expected to see the Lumia 928 officially revealed along with a high-megapixel PureView cameraphone, believed to be codenamed EOS. Photography has been one of Nokia's key areas of development, both in its own R&D labs and in terms of external investment into firms like Pelican, which specialize in multi-lens cluster arrays.


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