Microsoft's new Head of Devices Stephen Elop is a pilot, a world traveler, and a "cool" guy who enjoys prosciutto ham, mushrooms, green peppers, and tomatoes on his pizza, but he's no Trojan horse.
The Trojan horse bit is a charge the former CEO of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has had to defend since he left Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to take the reins at the handset maker, committed it to his former employer's operating system, and later facilitated the sale of Nokia back to the mothership. He was able to tie everything up quite nicely with a ribbon and $25 million paycheck, so the question about his equine reputation on today's Q&A live chat session with the Microsoft exec seems justified. (See Microsoft Officially Closes Nokia Buy, Will Elop Return Without the Crown?, The Nokia/Microsoft Conspiracy Theory, and Nokia Adds Another Microsoft Vet.)
Commenter Vivi said (and you have to go with the flow on this one): "You have bashed very harshly with your efforts to take Nokia to Microsoft, have been awarded as Trojan in online discussions and comments. Do you take any effect of all this on your work/decision?"
Elop responded that what remains of Nokia has been transformed into a stronger company with Nokia Networks , HERE, and Advanced Technologies and that the device business has a new opportunity within a stronger Microsoft. (See Euronews: Suri Slated for Nokia Top Job.)
"As for the Trojan horse thing, I have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia," he wrote. "Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member."
Elop didn't have to defend himself for much of the rest of the Q&A -- besides the one guy who told him "you're so cool" and reminded him how he "buried" Meego, Symbian, and Meltemi -- but he did field (and defer) questions on the future of the Nokia name. (See Nokia Unveils Major Revamp.)
The devices boss said:
- Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. While we are not ready to share precise details, I can assure you that it will not be the "Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network" ... too many words! That somehow doesn't roll off the tongue...
Even so, Nokia's future under Microsoft is already starting to take shape. The company put out its first commercial post close, in which it borrows a theme from Samsung Corp. in calling out other smartphone users for being bland and unoriginal. Elop pointed to this spot when someone on the Q&A asked if the bright colors associated with Nokia would make its way into Microsoft's typically conservative design aesthetic. "I'm pretty sure you will see this 'colorful' personality transcend into MSFT," he said.
As for what else will live on from Nokia under Microsoft, that remains to be seen. A leaked letter suggested the name would be changed to "Microsoft Mobile," but Finnish Light Reading community member Susan Fourtané tells us that "Nokia employees I know, who work in Finland and The UK and have been transferred after the deal was closed, have said this week that the company's name is still Nokia, adding 'the same, but different.'"
"Same, but different" is a good way to describe it. The market dynamics are much different from when Nokia was the industry leader: competition is different; consumer demands are different. Elop is the same, of course, but he'll have to understand that things can't stay the same under Microsoft if it's to have a chance at competing again.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading