Starter phone: The Lumia 710 will go on sale in January in the U.S. for $49.99. Nokia has lost nearly all its American smart-phone business to Apple and other competitors.
You’ve described a war between ecosystems. What is the single most important technology, or user experience, that will decide the winners?
I don’t think it will be one single element, but rather the key will be the depth of integration between different elements. The first-level ecosystem experience has been characterized by a static collection of app icons on a fixed grid. What we like about Windows Phone is the smooth integration of things like social networking throughout the whole experience. While we know that there are many different components to an ecosystem, the seams between the components should be less and less obvious to consumers.
The history of corporate leaders surviving disruptive innovation is discouraging (Kodak, RCA, Compaq, Sears). Were there historical precedents that inspired you, such as Lou Gerstner at IBM?
I think there are many great cases of companies that have prospered through disruptive times. In the tech field, IBM is a great example where significant changes in strategy combined with a commitment to ongoing transformation can produce strong results.
As I mentioned above, Nokia has a storied history and a knack for reinventing itself. It’s embedded in our DNA.
What did you see Microsoft do wrong in your tenure there that you are committed to having Nokia avoid?
I think looking at what Microsoft does right is more instructive: for example, an absolute commitment to a strategy to see it through, adjusting as one goes. The word “tenacity” is used a lot at Microsoft, and that is how one must approach significant strategy changes.
When will you know your strategy was right? What metrics will show you?
Well, as I said earlier, we are now starting to see the first fruits of our strategy, and that’s encouraging. But this is the first step in a long journey for us. Clearly, we are aiming to win back market share in smart phones and bolster our position in mobile phones. Nokia also needs to adapt a challenger mentality. We must never get to the point where we say, “Okay, we’re done.”
I think the same is true with strategies—you always have to ask yourself if your chosen path is the right one. The mobile market has shown it can change quickly and radically, so we have to always track our strategy with the reality of the industry and make the adjustments—large or small—as necessary.