Business Management

Nokia is dead, Newkia is born

"The acquisition of Nokia's phone business by Microsoft has deeply affected the psyche of the Finnish people," said Singapore-based executive chairman & founder of Mobile FutureWorks, Thomas Zilliacus.

Zilliacus is former CEO of Nokia Asia-Pacific and the former global head of Nokia's brand and corporate marketing and is a distant relative of Nokia's founder, Fredrik Idestam.

Nokia Corporation was a top Finnish multinational communications and information technology corporation, headquartered in Espoo, Finland. Nokia's phones were the pride of Finland and millions around the world identified Nokia with Finland.

It all changed on 2 September 2013 when IT giant Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Nokia's mobile phone business unit as part of an overall deal totaling €5.44 billion (US$7.17 billion).

The loss of Nokia's phone business to an American company is almost like a shock to the people of Finland. 'There is no Nokia anymore'-is a bit difficult to digest for the Finnish people, said Zilliacus.

Though a majority of the Finnish population uses Nokia phones, people have not been 'very happy with the Windows ecosystem'.

"The deal reflects the complete failure of the Windows strategy Nokia's current CEO Stephen Elop chose when he was appointed Nokia's CEO some two years ago," he says. "Nokia, which only three years ago was the world's runaway market leader in mobile phones, is today a small and insignificant brand. The purchase price represents around 2 percent of Nokia's market cap over 10 years ago."

"The fact is that the Nokia phones are fantastic and people at Nokia still possess superior know-how," said Zilliacus. "The people at Nokia possess amazing skills and know-how, which have been shackled by the decision to go for Windows as the OS."

Zilliacus believes that Nokia could still succeed if it is weaned away from the Windows platform.

And this is exactly what he plans to do-to build a new company using the technological know-how of some former and existing Nokia engineers and professionals.

"My investment company Mobile FutureWorks, whose advisors include the former Nokia Mobile Phones CEO Jorma Nieminen, Ericsson's former CEO Sven-Christer Nilsson and the former chairman of Singapore Telecom Koh Boon Hwee, tried to raise funds about one year ago to take control of Nokia," he said. "The plan did not succeed, but yesterday's announcement opens up an even more exciting new opportunity."

Yesterday itself, Mobile FutureWorks incorporated a new company, Newkia, in Singapore.

"Newkia is already in discussions with key Nokia people, both existing and former employees," Zilliacus said. "We will offer the best people in the industry a possibility to build a new global leader in the mobile industry, with a full focus on the dominating operating system Android. While we want to retain many functions in Finland where many of the key skill sets reside, we will have a strong focus on the parts of the world where the growth is, in particular Asia."

Zilliacus' next plan of action is to raise money to make Newkia a real success. He wants to launch the company's business by the end of this year.

Though he will use the expertise of former Nokia engineers and designers, the company will be headquartered in Singapore and will leverage on the manufacturing capabilities of Asian countries.


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