Stephen Elop Joining Telstra As Head Of Strategy

During the early years of cell 'phone adoption and before smartphones, almost every European carrier customer used a Nokia 'phone at one point or another. Nokia are credited with the start of gaming on the mobile 'phone platform thanks to Snake, seemingly designed to keep commuters amused for hours, the single Navi-Key designed to simplify using the 'phone and of course the Nokia ringtone, which is still in use today. In later years, Nokia developed the Symbian operating system, which has its roots in Psion's EPOC 32 operating system, and used this as the smartphone platform. However, as with many other platforms, the introduction of Apple's iOS and Google's Android rendered Symbian OS obsolete. Nokia struggled on with the legacy platform, developing new iterations and in late 2010, announced that Stephen Elop would be taking over the reins of the business. Stephen, the first non-Finnish national to run Nokia, went on to replace Symbian OS with Microsoft's Windows Phone rather than Android. This decision, which was backed by the Nokia board, was based on the need to differentiate the Nokia brand from the competition as Windows Phone was not well adopted in the industry: this was the start of the Nokia Lumia brand of devices, running Windows Phone.

Without labouring the point, the Nokia Lumia devices were solid pieces of hardware running an operating system that struggled to gain traction. Microsoft developed the platform, pouring millions of dollars into it and eventually bought Nokia too, but unfortunately largely closed the doors on Windows Phone and perhaps Windows Mobile 10 last year. Meanwhile, following Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's handset business in late 2013, Stephen became the Executive Vice President of the Microsoft Devices Group business division. Unfortunately, last summer Stephen was laid off during Microsoft's massive job cutting exercise and he had been relatively quiet in this time. However, Australian carrier Telstra have announced that he is joining them as their head of strategy. He will be reporting to Andrew Penn, the Chief Executive Officer, who said this on the hire: "Stephen will immediately add major firepower to our team with his extensive and deep technology experience and an innate sense of customer expectations."

Although the decisions around Nokia, Windows Phone and Microsoft look less than ideal with the benefit of hindsight, Stephen did manage to sell on the Nokia business despite the massive drop in market share - where HP was unable to sell on the Palm business and BlackBerry has soldiered on. As a point of interest, Nokia released a number of Android devices in 2014 whereas BlackBerry did not move to the Android platform until late last year. We are hearing persistent rumours that Nokia are working on Android devices to launch at the end of 2016 or early 2017. Meanwhile, Stephen's brave new world will start at Telstra on the 4 April.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.