Emerging Technology

Former Nokia chairman’s shock confession: “We were not successful in using Microsoft’s operating system”

Andrew Sadauskas /

Former Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila has made the startling admission that the decision to choose Windows Phone was a big mistake during an explosive new interview with Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

Ollila, who served as Nokia’s chief executive from 1992 to 2006 and its chairman from 1999 to 2012 overseeing controversial chief executive Stephen Elop, granted the interview ahead of the release of his autobiography, An Impossible Success.

During the interview, Ollila reveals the company’s controversial decision to opt for the Windows Phone operating system, over internally developed alternative MeeGo or Google’s Android, was the product of a lengthy review process ending in 2011.

“Great risks were involved when we assessed the company’s competitiveness on the Board with these operating systems over a period of two to three years. After very lengthy and meticulous consideration we decided on Microsoft, which happened to have the broad support of our outside advisers, the company’s management, and Research and Development,” Ollila says.

When asked whether the decision to opt for Windows Phone was a mistake, Ollila says it was.

“This is true. We were not successful in using Microsoft’s operating system to create competitive products, or an alternative to the two dominant companies in the field.”

The decision to choose Windows Phone has been routinely criticised by former Nokia executive and industry analyst Tomi Ahonen, while Elop was heckled over the decision by shareholder’s at the company’s last AGM.

In September, Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia for $US7.2 billion, after Nokia announced its smartphone sales slumped 27% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013, with an overall loss of €115 million ($190 million) for the quarter.

The sales plunge was led by the company’s Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphone unit, where unit shipments fell 27% from 10.2 million units during the second quarter of 2012 to just 7.4 million for the same quarter in 2013.

However, Ollila still refuses to speculate on what would have happened had the company opted for MeeGo or Android.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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