“Please switch to another road:” Nokia boss Stephen Elop heckled by angry shareholders at AGM

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop has been criticised by angry investors at the company’s annual general meeting in Helsinki, with shareholders attacking his 2011 decision to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform on the company’s smartphones.

According to Reuters, Elop re-iterated the company’s support for the platform during the meeting.

“We make adjustments as we go. But it’s very clear to us that in today’s war of ecosystems, we’ve made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line,” Elop told investors.

“And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and [Google] Android.”

Elop’s comments led to a sharp rebuke from some investors.

“You’re a nice guy … and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it’s not enough,” a shareholder named Hannu Virtanen told Elop.

“Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road!”

The annual general meeting comes less than a month after the release of disappointing first quarter results, with the Finnish mobile phone giant shocking investors by announcing a massive 21% drop in mobile phone shipments to 55.8 million units.

Overall net sales dropped by 20% to 5.9 billion euros, missing analysts’ expectations of 6.5 billion euros in sales for the quarter.

The weak results come  near the end of a two-year period in which Elop promised a ‘turnaround’ at the troubled mobile phone maker, with analysts warning the current management team is running out of time.

“Basically, he has only the second quarter,” said Mikko Ervasti at Finnish investment banking and wealth management group Evli.

As SmartCompany reported in August last year, Elop has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, with the Finnish Shareholders Federation going so far as threatening an extraordinary general meeting to sack him.

Former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, who is an outspoken critic of the company’s decision to abandon its Symbian and Meego platforms in favour of its current Lumia/Windows Phone strategy, a decision he attacked in a 29,000 word essay, again criticised Nokia’s management decision following the results.

“This strategy has totally failed. Nokia’s Lumia series running Windows Phone is still bleeding customers, refusing to transition even at a one-to-one level from Symbian. Nokia had 34% market share in smartphones when Elop took over, it has 3% now,” Ahonen said.

“Like I predicted, with just over 5% profit margin in the ‘dumbphone’ unit, Nokia is now the ‘Dell of mobile phones’ as an ultra-low-cost ‘box mover’.”


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