Elop takes helm at Nokia as N8 faces delays

Newly installed Nokia chief Stephen Elop has only been in the captain’s chair a few hours and he’s already fire fighting as news spreads of expected delays to the forthcoming N8 handset.

Based on the Symbian ^3 platform, the N8 is set to be Nokia’s flagship model, spearheading the company’s renewed assault on the smartphone sector. At Nokia World last week it was revealed to have garnered the highest number of online pre-orders in the company’s history.

But in response to news of delivery delays, Nokia was forced to release an update clarifying that it still expects to start shipments by the end of the third quarter. However, the company had targeted its online pre-order customers to receive their N8s by the end of September but is now advising that they should expect their devices in October.

While Nokia has moved quickly to address concerns over the N8, questions are being raised about the reason for the delay, piling yet more pressure on the company, which is still reeling from the loss of two key executives.

Just days after then CEO Olli Pekka Kallasvuo announced his resignation, Anssi Vanjoki, head of mobile solutions at the Finnish firm also quit his post, prompting speculation that the task of turning Nokia into a leader in the smartphone space was too daunting. But there is also the possibility of compatibility issues with Stephen Elop, ex-head Microsoft’s Business division, who took the post of CEO on Tuesday.

Analysts have raised questions about Elop’s ability to take the firm forward. His software expertise and prior roles with Macromedia/Adobe demonstrate the direction Nokia’s board feels the company needs to follow, but the handset business must be maintained. And this is an area in which he has little experience. For Vanjoki, it looks like it’s going to be an uncomfortable six months, if he works out his notice period that is.

As the first non-Finn to run Nokia, Elop is in a great position to change Nokia’s perception as well as its strategy.

Peter-Paul Koch, a noted mobile platform strategist and founder of has an interesting analysis on Nokia’s problems.

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