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Nokia’s top designer, Marko Ahtisaari, to leave Nokia this November

As the dust begins to settle around the Microsoft-Nokia announcement late last night, a deal which won’t take effect until 2014 due to regulatory clearances, it has been revealed that Marko Ahtisaari will be leaving the company as well.

Ahtisaari has been a very public face of the company in terms of design, coming to signify the Lumia brand. Appearing in a few videos (see below), the soft-spoken Finn described why Nokia chose certain design aspects over others for their Lumia devices, highlighting the connection between “the digital and the physical”.

Ahtisaari is reportedly leaving to pursue “entrepreneurial opportunities”, to which he is no stranger. He was a founding investor in the business travel startup Dopplr, which was later acquired by Nokia—that transaction lead him to his current position of Nokia’s Design Unit in 2011.

It’s unclear at this point what effect Ahtisaari’s leaving will have on future Lumia devices. Presumably there is a trove of designs still in drawers or being worked on as we speak, but his guidance on the nuances for the Lumia line will surely be missed. It’s is that attention to detail that arguably make Lumias what they are for consumers.

Ahtisaari will be replaced by Stefan Pannenbecker in early November.

Via: All Things D

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Well people if u didnt believe me well believe now were fcked welcome to hell wpcentral :'(
  • This is just the start most of the top engineers will be leaving so yah what now ? Well i dont know
  • Have you seen how beautiful Surface is? 
  • +1
  • +10
  • 1020
  • +1520
  • +Surface Pro
  • +820
  • It's nice but nowhere near a cyan Lumia/N9
  • This is still no reason to panic.. People like you panicked when the WP team lost key players, and the platform carried on... You should stop saying we're fucked, and change it to I'm fucked, because it's your own fear that's changing your perception of WP... Quit being so week, and impressionable... Hold your ground, and be a man❕... You are literally running and hiding with your junk tucked in between your legs dude❗❗ Is this who you are❔
  • We just have an idiot in our mists. GideonTerblanche is one of those Hit The Lights kind of fools that grossly generalizes everything just to hijack every thread on every story. If you're visiting us for the first time, this is not the norm. He just showed up and nobody knows who he is. He'll be gone soon. Stupidity like this runs in cycles.
  • This ⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆
  • i never knew the day would come when you would agreee with NIST
  • I wish there was a "like" button for posts. I totally agree. Two stories in a row he has been the first poster and directed the thread for a while. Next time he posts crap like this just don't answer, because any responses will have no effect.
  • Exactly right Rodneyej. This is bigger than one dev and even one CEO.
  • Preach it brother
  • he's a troll trying to get a rise out of everyone. ignore him.
  • I think... they know there buisness better then we do...!! they are not fools to make this deal happen.
    best thing is that Now nokia will have all the resources to do what they do best. also it may push MSC to work harder as now they have invested in it directly. Loosing is no option for them now.
  • Nice. Thanks Rodneyej. Now I have to spend the rest of the day trying not to see the mental image of him "running and hiding with his junk tucked in between his legs."! 
  • You think Marko was an engineer? FYI: there is a huge difference between designers and engineers lol.
  • This! It annoys me the amount of people who use the term engineer incorrectly.
  • Me too, although this doesn't annoy me as much as when BT say they'll send an engineer round to look at my phone line!! Unless they're grossly overqualified for the job he's not an engineer (and in any case clearly not working as one).
  • You're getting annoying..
  • For speaking the truth lol WOW :|
  • It's not truth because nothing has happened yet.. You're like that chicken running around crying "the sky is falling, the sky is falling"... Lol... That was funny.. You have to admit that was funny..
  • Lol
  • An opinion is not truth. An opinion is merely gas from a higher orifice.
  • wow....maybe this expression is common but its the first time im hearing it in this form....nice one
  • Opinion ain't truth? Well my opinion I think Michael Jordan is the best basketball player that ever played basketball oh gotta love opinions when they are the truth
  • You don't know any truth. You are just a bored troll with too much time.
  • You misspelled word FUCKED
  • Pg 13 now u just made it 18 :/
  • He was probably leaving either way...
  • Lol.. Right❕
  • Your time here is done.
  • Lol❕.. I see what you did there.. But, I don't think were fucked... I think this is the biggest publicity stunt Microkia has pulled so far.. Possibly the biggest publicity stunt in the history of Mobile..
  • Huge overreaction. Quit crying wolf.
  • Im glad get in some younger designer's get rid of these old guys........yaay
  • Well, I wouldn't say I'm glad he's leaving... That's going a little too far.. Lol❕
  • Dude seriously. Some of us are excited about the move and see a lot potential for Microsoft with Nokia innovation.
    This is not the apocalypse so stop being that person screaming in the middle of the street telling us about it...
    Lame ass
  • LOL.. Lame ass.. That was funny.
  • I thought so too lol
  • Take the tin foil off your head. I bet you sold all your belongings and lived in the woods, towards the end of the Mayan calendar.
  • Who is Stefan Pannenbecker, and what are is abilities and strengths?
    That's my only concern right now!
  • I took this from another site
    "Stefan Pannenbecker is currently VP of Design at Nokia where he leads design teams in Finland, the UK and China creating a portfolio of devices which we have been seeing from Nokia in the past few years."
    from the verge an interview with him from 2012
    so yeah, he can do an amazing job with his new position, or even better. dont expect things to change much though :)  
    I also found a video with him and you can keep looking for his info, which wont be bad at all
  • Thanks!!! I had that question too.
  • +920
  • The "new" guy  Stefan Pannenbecker designed the lumia 800 and 900 along with the curved display and so on.... so basically the whole brand. so don't worry about design issues ;)
    Source : Financial Times
  • can you shut up? or at max speak like an open minded non panicking person about the article in question? If you want to rant and express anguish kindly start a thread in the forum of your own and discuss. have a nice day.
  • So you're one of those people who believe there's an "i" in the work team. I guess he designed the lumia phone all alone huh? While the the carbon fiber design is good, there's been a lot of people calling for aluminum designs. Don't mention the 625, because while it's good, its not "great", if it was, it would be rivaling the HTC "One" & the iphone, which it's not. If the design was stellar, I don't care what OS it was running, people would purchase it simply for looks and it would be rivaling either of the two hand sets I mentioned above because average consumers are visual creatures, not tech junkies like most members of this site.
  • Really guys. Are you changing your devices every two months or what? I got mine and will keep it for two years. In two years a lot of things will happen. Basicaly two-three years ago android was something strange that will not survive. Devices were ugly and buggy. And look where it is now.
    And on the optimistic note remember that Syrian conflict can become WWIII so who will care about smartfones. Just make sure that you got typewriter hidden somewhere :)
  • I think that might be good news. Nokia's design can improve. What about less bezel, bigger screen (4.8 - 5.5) thinner & lighter body. That's pretty much the norm for top device nowadays.
    Sadly not a single Nokia device delivers all of that. Hope they will address it in near future.
    Another hope: Sammy will produce ATIV S 2.
  • Seriously dude what is up with you!?
    Are you a person that wants it to fail so you come on here scaremongering? One person does not a company make, take a chill pill.
  • ...he must have opposed the deal?
  • Lol .. He is just an employee
  • An employee who is known for Lumia design!!!
  • Define "Lumia design"
  • He was the one that was leading N9 design team. N9 was his baby.
    N9 design that later came all Lumias design.
  • JUST an employee who ONLY designed the Lumia phones.
  • He is significant enough to have been named in the press release announcing the d&s sale. That means he is considered to have a material impact on the share price and is not "just an employee".
  • Duh lol :P
  • Ya... Still not seeing a definition.
  • Not necessarily. Could be leaving because he wants to do something else.
  • Maybe he left to design ear buds?
  • He seemed sad ever since Nokia moved to Windows phone and he loved Symbian, maybe this was the last straw he will surely be missed,because of him lumias are recognizable
  • Lol yea its kind of scary the way you put it :/
  • +Surface
  • Sorry but unfortunately its the truth
  • Yeah... Symbian, that successful operating system.
  • It was very successful. for a while
  • Well what happened to it? Don't say WP, because sales must have been lackluster prior to the switch. Just ask Nokia finance department if it was profitable prior to choosing WP.
  • What happened was that times changed, the iPhone happened, and Symbian was no longer enough for Nokia to be dominant in the smartphone industry.
  • While I love Nokia, you comment implies that Nokia team was not smart enough to improve their Symbian product to compete against the iPhone or Android as well.
  • Their touchscreen Symbian phones , particularly the N97, didn't gain enough traction to be a threat to the iPhone or Android. I wouldn't say they weren't smart but they were using last gen method for this gen's competition. Just like Windows Mobile 6.5
  • If the design was attractive enough and the OS ran smooth enough, then people would have purchase it and it would have gained traction. Win mobile 6.5 was the first Android in a sense and Microsoft fail to market or just like it did with Zune....both were great product. I'm curious to know your thoughts about why maemo failed as well? I Nokia as I pointes out but refuse to make an excuse as to why their product failed as they just like blackberry were king of the hill and simply got complacent. Ballmer didn't take mobile serious, Blackberry thought the keyboard would rule forever, and Nokia forgot about America once it took the top manufacturing crown.
  • Basicaly he never worked with Symbian. He joined company in 2011 when the first Lumia was launched. He even was not involved in it as well.
  • It would be nice if Nokia shared the Symbian apps/games to WP which would give wp the numbers for the store. But Symbian is still quite a popular mobile os
  • So people here are making a big deal about a short timer leaving? If your information is correct, this guy could be a job hopper or in his two years, he could see the writing on the wall and had an exit strategy
  • I think and everyone agree that Lumia design started with N9. So this is story
  • we need a official statement whether Nokia branding would be removed from Lumia phones
  • It won't. Lumia branding is one of the few things that keeps WP afloat. Getting rid of it, would be same as Samsung got rid of Galaxy.
  • Are you sure? Ballmer's words on the matter aren't that reassuring.
  • He said Nokia branding, not Lumia branding
  • +1
  • Yes, there is an official statement ALONG WITH an agreement. Unless Lumia phones are dumbed down to FEATURE PHONES (you know the thing that only calls and texts?) the branding will be gone. It is Microsoft Lumia. Nokia FEATURE PHONES. Asha is a smartphone and hence it is Microsoft Asha. It is in black and white agreement.
  • Microsoft Lumia !!! o_O ... completely sucks #:( just kidding, I'm really upset because I'll miss "Nokia" branding on my phone :(
  • You should read it again. Asha is considered a feature phone. Nokia's press release specifically stated phones based on series 40 will continue to use the Nokia name. So it will be Nokia Asha (because people who buy those phones buy it just because of the Nokia name)
  • Nokia and Lumia are established brand-names all over the world - I don't see why anyone would want to mess with it.
    Nokia stands for trust, support, quality and reliability ... Lumia stands for innovation, imaging , and beautiful handsets... Microsoft - doesn't quite stand for much other than powerful, money-rich, corporate giant
    Having Nokia as their manufacturing arm should be good enough - similar to IBM and Lenovo..
  • ^ This, MS should think deeply before 'erasing' the "Nokia" brand, because "Nokia" is a very trusted and reliable company and peoples already trust Nokia.
  • But they want ppl to trust microsoft
  • This!
  • Microsoft is stupid for getting rid of the Nokia name. I'm sorry I will not buy a phone called the "Microsoft Lumia" its just stupid. Surely this will dent some much needed sales so hopefully they fix it, because I want to stay with the windows OS and Nokia phones.
  • Microkia Lumurface
  • I have an important question about the Nokia Microsoft buy! Will Microsoft be able to put "Nokia" and "Lumia" in future windows phones??? Because I'm hearing that they will only be able to use "Nokia" on feature phones
  • Yes ONLY feature phones. 
  • Microsoft can't use name Nokia but they can use Lumia.
    And the pieces that left of Nokia are only allowed to make feature phones, which isn't going to happen because they don't have any phone related specialists, they all work for Microsoft right now.
  • So? There's no "Nokia Lumia" again?
  • I hope a very good future for Windows Phone and Nokia! For me it will be better for both :)
  • They should only brand through windows phone label, they should also start making products in America to gain more American buyers
  • +1520
  • As a non-American, I prefer European style and build quality..
  • Anyways, woke up this morning to this news and made my day, I'm really happy that my ecosystem of choice now is under a strong muscled company. Regarding people leaving, no one is irreplaceable.
  • +1020 here
  • Such a talented designer!
  • I just hope they don't make WP phones with the same design/quality as the Surface tablets.. The Lumia style is a big part of their appeal to me.
  • I like Surface design. It's a sexy tablet and feels premium.
  • Lumia design is sexier to me, its got curves!
  • The Surface RT/Pro is a really good device, i own a RT myself and i think it's the most beautiful tablet i have ever seen, i hope they make a phone like this, but i also want Microsoft (Nokia) to continue to use the Lumia design language, i really hope Microsoft innovates in the future ...
  • I really wish people would calm down about if future phones will say "Nokia" or "Lumia". Smart business says the best way to combat the Apple iPhone is to have a true Windows or Surface Phone. It will strengthen brand awareness. That said, my gut feeling is we will see a slow transition over the next year and a half from "Nokia Lumia" to Surface branding some where around late 2014 to mid 2015. So that's a whole year to two of more "Nokia Lumia" phones.
  • Have you been around long enough to know WP before and after Nokia Lumia branding kicked in? You would know why people aren't calm. Nokia Lumia is essential for the momentum WP has right now. The transition will mean drop off of loyal Nokia customers. They will need super convincing from MSFT for the design quality and product that is still Nokia but just a different name. It will slow down the momentum of WP even if Microsoft Lumia were 10 times better than Nokia Lumia. It is all about brand awareness. Nokia > Lumia > Microsoft > Surface.
  • Really? I am a die hard Nokia and WP fan and tried to convert as many people to join the Lumia camp, coverted 4 people so far and they are in love with it.
    But feed back from most people still think of Nokia is a dying brand, and the younger generation ones that never grow up with Nokia think of it as some cheap manufacturer. For these ignorance people shoving a 'Microsoft' would actually make them think twice about the phone range. 'Microsoft' is especially tempting for the enterprise sector as well.
  • That is my experience as well. Love the Lumia line, Love Nokia but I don't believe it is a stronger brand name than Microsoft.
  • Yep, been around from the beginning. Used Windows Mobile as well. I guess it depends on what country you are from the overall brand perception of Nokia. In Europe the perception is probably much higher than here in the USA. When I tell people I have a Nokia they think I have a Nokia from the 90's and aren't really interested to hear about it, unless they are really into Tech. When I tell people I have a Windows Phone, the want to know more and ask me questions about it and how it compares to an iPhone.
  • You don't understand how big the brand name Nokia is in Asia and in Europe. I very much doubt the reason most people in Europe bought a Lumia because it was a Windows Phone but rather it is a Nokia. Nokia is a trusted brand, it holds stronger than Surface does (at least outside America). That is the point.
  • True!
  • Sad times. Its things like this that make me question the buyout. If watch this guy's presentations you can see how passionate he is about the future of mobile phones and design.
  • This doesn't mean anything. I like the designs of the surface tablets. I think combining the surface design with things like the pureview camera and the screen technology could be an awesome phone.
  • if nokia will become greedy now under micro$oft im gonna cryy and switch to android
  • Greedy? You tell Apple at the same time ask Google to develop WP apps.
  • Main reason I got my Lumia 920 now this and Microsoft buying Nokia? I think I'll go back to Android thanks, WP just wasn't what I was expected
  • I'll never go to that overwrought mess of a UI. For every one task I do on wp takes me one step but two on Android. If two on WP, Android three. Sure the wallpapers are nice, but the icons and widgets are short of amazing or revolutionary.
  • I want a lumia which has vapourmag cover =]
  • It has begun.
    Now prepare yourselfs....unless they put the guy who designed the Surface in charge of WP designs, there goes the neighbourhood. Hopefully Ahtisaari can go to Sony...the Xperias are great but their designs leave much to be desired...and since Microsoft is intended on killing Nokia... 
  • They said the same on 21st of December 2012...
  • Seriously, why wait until 2015. I'm sure we can all pitch in.
  • Damn his video was the reason I bought a 920. His designs were amazing. I have a surface RT and it a nice design but the Lumia line is way better.
  • HTC needs a new designer... Last One ended up in Jail... ;-)
  • Likely it won't be the first higher level employee to move on. Buyouts always cause a shuffle in staff.
  • I'm really starting to realize how shallow many of the members of WPCentral are after reading though the comments section of this article. If you guys think this sell off made this designer decide to leave Nokia. I'm sure he's been planning to leave Nokia for some time now since they've not been profitable under symbian, meego, or wp yet. WP has given Nokia a real chance at getting back into the cell phone business, but the board members have to do what's best for the company and its share holders. Are you guys telling me you'd rather see Nokia go down in flames like Black Berry is doing or reinvent itself? Microsoft inherits a great design/developer team, Nokia stock holders make a profit (Nokia stock is up 30%). Black Berry could have sold to MS at least a year ago but it's stubborn CEO chose not to, look at him now!!!
  • They conveniently forget that current Nokia lacks the muscle to throw some heavy punches to the rivals. They simply cannot afford to mass produce and shower the market with the flagship model. Microsoft as a different company can not just throw money in without backfiring from the shareholders and the other OEMs.
  • *Literally*...
  • I hope that means that we'll see a focus of FUNCTION over form. I love how the Lumias look, but always felt a sense of frustration when the integrity of the design meant that we couldn't have things like expandable storage, for fear of breaking the flow.
  • The people crying are acting like this is the only guy in the world who knows how to design phones.
  • He is no longer needed. All Nokia needs to do is go back over time and start (or continue, depending on who you ask) re-using existing designs. There's only so much that can be done with a fucking rectangle.
  • the real sad thing is, that our favorite company (the most of WP users) is breaking into pieces. I was, and I am proud for what Nokia had made all this years. I hope the best for the future
  • Likely Microsoft will attempt to turn LUMIA by itself into its own brand. I.e. You don't buy a Microsoft Xbox 360, you just buy an Xbox 360. Thus you will just buy a Lumia 1520, for instance.
  • Actually if that happens I would be happy. Similar to how you don't buy a Microsoft Surface RT. You just buy a Surface RT.
  • Bye bye Nokia. Nice to meet You iphone
  • Same here but would always love you. The bitter sweet memories is all that I'm taking with me. And i wish you doom and dirt. And I will always F u...!!
  • One by one everyone will leave who made Nokia with their effort and ambitions. Why it had to happen :'( felt like deja vu when i woke up and read it. Pls say its a dream...
  • Are you on Elm Street?
  • Overly dramatic much?
  • Dude looks...weird.
  • Wow so much attention whoring in here today.
  • I love Surface, Xbox is good if not a bit loud, Windows 8 is spot on, im sure Microsoft Lumia will be beautiful and smooth to use, my rare Nokia collection just became more rare.....yeah, I'm happy :)
  • Somebody has to leave and someone has to cover up, what if the upcoming design is much more advance, creative, appealing, i never saw smartphone design that is very sophisticated as Lumia. Nobody wanted a round edges, and Microsoft wanted it flat, IOS 7 wanted it flat. I hope acquiring Nokia won't make a splat.
  • Stefan Panennbecker, Marko's replacement, is currently the VP of Nokia's design team, so he's right behind Marko (I'm pretty sure). I wouldn't worry too much about design! Even if the replacement wasn't from Nokia, Microsoft still designs beautiful hardware (like Surface!).
  • If the design was attractive enough and the OS ran smooth enough, then people would have purchase it and it would have gained traction. Win mobile 6.5 was the first Android in a sense and Microsoft failed to market it just like it did with Zune....both were great products. I'm curious to know your thoughts about why maemo failed as well? I love Nokia as I pointed out but refuse to make an excuse as to why their product failed; they just like blackberry were king of the hill and simply got complacent. Ballmer didn't take mobile serious, Blackberry thought the keyboard would rule forever, and Nokia forgot about America once it took the top manufacturing crown, and Microsoft thought their name alone would sale unmarketed products. The Nokia name alone will sell some units, but not enough to compete on a global scale, however, in their hay day, had they continued importing and marketing over seas and abroad, they would rule today.