Nokia is one of the giants of the old cellphone world. The company sells about 40% of the world’s cellphones, putting it in first place by a long shot. But Nokia is losing ground incredibly fast. Many of its customers are in developing countries like India, which yield little profit, and even its European base mostly consists of low-end models, which, again, have a razor-thin profit margin. Despite selling several times more devices than Apple, Nokia in fact made less profit last year than the gang from Cupertino, and in the last three months alone, its stock value in the States is down 42%. The company is not doing well.
Its devices tell the story. Nokia’s “legacy” (codeword for “altogether outdated”) Symbian S60 operating system has not aged well, adapting poorly to new technologies and services like touch gestures and app stores. The company can’t even decide on an operating system–some handsets use Symbian, some use the Linux-based Maemo or Meego, and none have been particular successes.
To compete with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Palm/HP, Nokia needs a major shakeup. Its market penetration in the States is just about nil, and given that this country is a huge market for highly profitable, high-end smartphones, it’s a huge problem to have as little presence here as Nokia does.
In response to all this darkness, Nokia has, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources, launched a search for a CEO to replace current head honcho Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who has been in charge of the company since 2006. Apparently, Nokia is auditioning several heads of U.S.-based tech companies, though one is said to have rejected an offer because Nokia wanted him or her to move to that company’s native Finland. Hopefully Nokia can find someone good; the company has some great ideas and a history of great products–just not lately–and we’d love to see a fresh start from Finland.