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Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a fascinating article today on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Microsoft on the Nokia devices acquisition. The four page article is mostly about how CEO Nadella is putting things back together, and asserting his vision, but there are some enthralling tidbits too about how the Nokia deal came to be.

In the report, it’s revealed that the original deal included Nokia’s HERE Maps in addition to Nokia’s hardware division. That’s interesting, if only because many arm-chair CEOs have suggested that Microsoft should just buy everything from Nokia. The Microsoft board, however, disagreed. The main complaint? The deal was “too expensive and complex” and the mapping division was not even needed (between Bing Maps and licensing, it’s not clear why Microsoft needs to own HERE Maps).

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Update 12 PM ET: It's official and the EGM is over. Shareholders have approved the deal between Microsoft and Nokia.

Nokia shareholders have today approved the Microsoft deal to purchase the company's phone division. The Financial Times reports that 99.7 percent of participating shareholders (around 5,000 attended the vote) were in favour of the deal going through. Microsoft will now integrate the Nokia division into Redmond, taking control of future Lumia and Asha products. 

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Microsoft is looking to buy Nokia (or at least its devices and services division), that has already been covered numerous times. Now, Steve Ballmer is reported to have been in Beijing to visit Stephen Elop and Nokia. Now, the actual deal between the two companies is still yet to be finalised and approved, but these are clear signs that the two parties are already preparing discussions and more.

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Today it seems everywhere you turn in the financial media, there is a story about how Nokia’s chairman screwed up in disclosing information about Stephen Elop’s bonus package to the media. Some of the reporting on it is a bit wonky, so I thought I’d clear things up.

Long story short, Nokia’s chairman was initially quoted as saying Elop’s contract was essentially the same as that of the prior CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. When a Finnish newspaper, “Helsingin Sanomat”, dug into his employment contract, which is published to the SEC website, they discovered one important major difference. Elop stands to have his stock compensation vested in an accelerated manner should he resign following a change of control. The prior Finnish CEO didn’t have this clause. The difference amounts to about $25 million, according to various other folks who did the math (I didn’t, and I’m assuming their math is correct).

People love to complain about these things. A Forbes article even went so far as to say that Elop gets paid specifically because he managed to get the stock to go down, and then sharply up again on a takeover bid from Microsoft. The Forbes piece made it seem like this roller coaster action was a requirement to trigger the bonus.

That’s not true. Here’s what is true:

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All is rosy between the two chaps at the Lumia 920 announcement

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop appeared to welcome the idea of Microsoft creating its own Windows Phone in an investor call today. Elop has previously declined to acknowledge or confirm such a project was underway at Redmond, but we later covered news that Microsoft does indeed have its own Windows Phone in the works.

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We're here with another From the Forums, where we pick out the top discussions from the Windows Phone Central forum that demand your attention. If you've been absent over the course of the weekend, then this resource is the perfect opportunity to get back into the swing of things with other Windows Phone owners in our community. Pop on past the break for the latest threads.

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Everybody gets down to the groove with Elop

Nokia's Stephen Elop is as committed as ever to the Windows Phone path he began to lead the company down last year, according to a report by AllThingsD. As Symbian gradually closed its eyes in the pit of smartphone doom, Elop shifted Nokia's focus to Windows Phone. This move gave consumers the first generation Lumia family. Recently the company unveiled the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 that will both be running Windows Phone 8.

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Image from the WSJ Live interview with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

In an online video interview just posted to WSJ Live, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop discusses Nokia’s strategy going forward with Windows Phone, their regular phone business and what to expect tomorrow.

While no specifics were revealed, it has been confirmed that Nokia will be showing off a fully-functional Windows Phone 8 OS on their new devices—rubbing the point home that Samsung was unable to do this just a week ago. From the interview..

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While we're all eagerly awaiting to see what Nokia will bring to consumers in terms of Windows Phone 8 hardware, we've got word that CEO Stephen Elop will be delivering a keynote speech next year at Mobile World Congress. This will be the next step for the Finnish manufacturer -after the holiday season- to really step up its game and continue to produce innovative Windows Phones.

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Nokia appear to be having one of those days where they can’t get much of break from the financial institutions that help determine their fate. S&P has once again downgraded Nokia who now stand with a BB- rating—effectively making them “junk”.

Such a label is an indication to investors that sinking money into Nokia is speculative or high-risk.  What’s more, S&P indicate that further downgrades could be Nokia’s future should things not turn around quickly.

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Nokia's stock is on the rebound

We don’t normally cover too much when it comes to company stock but Nokia was an interesting case only because it dropped so low in the last few months. In fact, it dropped to its lowest price ($1.63) in 15 years and made some investors edgy—after all, if you go too low the company becomes financially meaningless and can get de-listed.

Nokia though was always a mixed bag with analysts noting that Windows Phone 8 could be its savior because the company can be unleashed with limitations on hardware lifted. Combined with the drastic cuts in the company, which unfortunately translates into layoffs, investors are now coming around....

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Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, has answered some questions asked by attendees from Microsoft's TechEd 2012. Questions range from developers, globalisation, Symbian and Windows Phone. Possibly the most interesting question, which is also on the minds of Windows Phone (and potential) consumers, is at 5:40.

Elop responds to the question about the inability to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 by stating that the manufacturer is excited about the features that will be included. He does note that all four current devices will receive Windows Phone 7.8, as well as a pattern of future updates from Nokia. These future updates will implement Internet sharing, flip-to-silence, and media content streaming.

"It's also inevitable, that in our fast moving industry, software platform updates are a necessity. They enable a new range of experiences and help offer people a broader range of options. Including size, design, price points."

Elop goes on to reiterate that Nokia are determined to offer long term support for current Lumia Windows Phones. Something that will please many who aren't overly fussed with the upcoming Apollo upgrade.

Source: YouTube

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Windows Phone Central and Stephen Elop at Nokia World 2011

Just when you thought the situation couldn't get any better for Nokia, or CEO Stephen Elop, some positive news has come out the HQ with Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia's recently appointed chairman, reaffirming faith in the Windows Phone strategy. The chairman also backed Elop's performance thus far.

"For the first time in the history of technology, the Windows Phone 8 operating system makes it possible for users to have the same experience on a PC, tablet or smartphone, and for many people on their televisions via their gaming consoles, and to do the same thing almost seamlessly from one screen to the next."

The switch of focus from the dwindling Symbian to Microsoft's new vision of the smartphone has been continuously questioned, but with the brand development the manufacturer has carried out with the Lumia line of Windows Phones, the future is looking at least slightly more bright. Siilasmaa commented on Elop's performance:

"Extremely analytical, critical, open and transparent."

Many would agree. What do you make of the performance of Nokia's CEO with the transition to Windows Phone?

Source: MarketWatch

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Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, said today in a conference call that the Finnish manufacturer is looking to take on Android in the fight for mobile dominance, especially when it comes to low-price devices. Its primary weapons, Windows Phone and the Nokia Lumia line of handsets.

"We need to compete with Android aggressively," said Elop. "The low-end price point war is an important part of that."

When prompted about whether Nokia planned on putting out phones with lower price points than the entry-level Lumia 610, Elop responded, "Absolutely." He added that, together with Microsoft's help, Nokia found "ways to go even further" to "broaden the price point range that we're pursuing with Lumia.". With a strong commitment to Windows Phone, he two tech behemoths are vigorously fighting to break into emerging markets like China and India.

Elop did not elaborate on their plans, nor how it relates to the soon-to-be-released Windows Phone 8, aka Apollo. However, with the Windows Phone Summit right around the corner, we would think some details may come to light then.

Source: TheVerge

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On April 19, Nokia is expected to release their Q1 results.  As a precursor, they put out some initial figures, showing that despite relatively strong sales, their profits continue to shrink.  Nokia totaled €4.2 billion in phone sales, the bulk of which consisted of 71 million feature phones, Nokia's one-time bread and butter, bringing in around €2.3 billion.  Smart devices earned them about €1.7 billion.  And even though these seem like pretty big numbers, they are not enough to cover the cost of moving over to the Windows Phone platform in an attempt to gain a foothold in the smartphone arena.  The expected result is a first quarter finish 3 percent below the break-even mark. 

But this doesn't mean all doom and gloom for Nokia.  Sales of Nokia's Lumia line of phones has been solid and continue to increase.  The Lumia 900 has gotten off to a quick start and doesn't show any signs of slowing yet.  And neither does Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop.  He says that he and his crew continue "to increase the clock speed of the company" and that "the change is tangible."  Considering that they scrapped their previous operating system in favor of Microsoft's just under a year ago, and that their first devices just hit the market last quarter, it's hard to call a 3 percent loss a failure.

Read the presser after the break.

Source: Nokia

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This morning at Mobile World Congress, CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop commented on their recent success of announcing four new Windows Phone within one year of their famous partnership with Microsoft. He noted that they were now in 31 different markets and on 50 unique operators with increasing demand in sales everyday.

In just under a year, they've won awards for the Lumia 900, including a "Best of Show" which was a first for them and garnered high praise for the Lumia 800.

So when it came to the Lumia 710, specifically on T-Mobile which Elop pointed out was their return-device to the U.S. market, he reported with great enthusiasm that sales are "exceeding expectations" and that they are "very pleased" with its performance in the market so far. While no specific numbers were given, it appears at least that Nokia has a small hit on their hands with the Lumia 710--a device we gave high praise for--and the increasing visibility of the device e.g. LIVE! with Kelly is certainly helping too.

Quickly checking T-Mobile's page for device information, we can in fact see this being reflected. As of today, the Lumia 710 is T-Mobile's third best selling device--a level we have never seen reached for any Windows Phone in the US. Likewise, the device is in the same spot for user satisfaction with a 4.7 stars (out of 5) from 115 reviews (interestingly, the HTC Radar is number two).

The conclusion seems to be that Nokia is doing quite well with the 710 which we think is a great sign for the impending Lumia 900 on AT&T and their accompanying media campaign.

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During the latest keynote speech at Mobile World Congress, HTC's Peter Chou and Nokia's Stephen Elop had a few fun moments taking shots at each during their talks and later during the question and answer session.  In what was probably the most exciting thing to happen here since Nokia announced a 41MP camera, the two (who insist they are friends and on good terms) clearly have some tension as both compete for market share and the minds of consumers.

One area that was addressed not once but twice was Nokia's 41MP camera versus HTC's 16MP on the Titan II announced last month. Elop started first by retelling the story of Chou announcing the phone back at CES and realizing they had to break out their 41MP camera sooner than later in order to steal back the focus on camera optics. Later, Chou told a similar story of how he asked Elop what he thought about the Titan II's camera and reportedly Elop was "silent" on the matter, clearly flustered. This worried Chou that Nokia were going to hit and hit back hard (indeed they did). What made that moment extremely entertaining though was when Chou insisted on telling his version of the CES story, Elop asked if he could snap Chou's picture (with the Pure View) while doing so--clearly a fun jest and the crowd reacted appropriately with roars of laughter. Point, Nokia.

Later, Chou was asked by the moderator what he thought when Nokia reported a $250 million payment from Microsoft, clearly part of the two's partnership. Chou was fairly diplomatic on the issue saying that he thought Nokia would be help lift everyone in regards to Windows Phone but obviously the payment must have slightly perturbed him, being a Microsoft partner for over 15 years.

Chou was also modest on the chances of Windows Phone success. He thinks there's nothing wrong with the OS and it's a great system but it seemed clear from his responses that he thought Android and iOS would clearly dominate for the foreseeable future. Though he did report that their Windows Phone customsers had extremely high satisfaction ratings for their phones with very few returns, something we've reported on before.

Interestingly, both Chou and Elop agreed that the 16MP versus 41MP competition is really misguided and focused too much on specs versus the customer experience, something both companies are concerned with (Elop more so as he "hopes it's not a spec war").

All in all, watching the two smartphone heavy weights discuss the pros and cons of Windows Phone was exciting both for the tension and humorous jousting between the two companies.

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One of Mobile World Congress's keynote speeches just wrapped up and this one featured three different speakers: Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare, CEO of HTC Peter Chou and CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop. The topic was simple: Mobile OS & Applications, specifically what challenges each CEO is facing and how the mobile OS can transform technology.

Each CEO gave their take on what they do and what they are doing for the future. Crowley is concerned with data aggregation on Foursquare and how to "give that back" to the customer in a useful manner. Chou was interested in the infinite possibilities of smartphones but more importantly how to smartly managed that e.g. HTC Sense. Finally Nokia's Elop focused on three areas:

  1. Ecosystems including big apps versus local apps, with the latter being Nokia's concern. This can be seen in things like App Highlights on their phones.
  2. Location-based services e.g. filling in the "Where? equation" on smartphones. We see this demonstrated with their Drive, Maps and Transport apps
  3. How to monetize this ecosystem for the smaller developers in emerging markets

Elop's discussion was frankly much more interesting as he was laying out, in no uncertain terms, what Nokia's plans were. They see growth in the untapped emerging markets, where 60% of cell phone users do not have a smartphone yet. He reiterated once again how he thought Nokia could be a "disruptive force" in the industry with Windows Phone (versus iOS or Android) and that Nokia had a great symmetry with Microsoft in regards to software/hardware design.

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