Nokia poaches Samsung veteran to head up consumer tech division

Nokia Technologies – the bit that deals with things like wearables and intellectual property, is now being run by Gregory Lee, the former head of Samsung Electronics North America.

Lee’s Nokia profile page reveals he had the top North American job since the start of 2015, prior to that he headed up the mobile phone division and served as global CMO for his first five years at Samsung Electronics. So Lee is very much a devices guy, which may offer some insight into Nokia’s non-networking ambitions.

When Nokia got rid of its one-dominant devices division a few years ago it kept hold of a bunch of patents and assorted intellectual property and grouped them into Nokia Technologies. At the time it looked little more than an attempt to recoup some residual value from the handset car crash via a spot of light patent trolling, but the acquisition of Withings and the licensing of handset designs to HMD indicate greater ambition from the company that was once synonymous with consumer gadgetry.

“We have chosen the right leader to take Nokia Technologies forward at a time of renewed excitement about the Nokia brand around the world,” said Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia. “Gregory’s passion for innovation and operational excellence, along with his proven ability to build and lead global consumer technology businesses, make him well suited to advance Nokia’s efforts in virtual reality, digital health and beyond.”

“I am excited by the opportunity to lead Nokia Technologies,” said Lee. “The Nokia Technologies team has produced innovative products and solutions in dynamic, high growth segments of the consumer technology market, and I am honored to be in a position to help build on this success in the future.”

It’s unlikely that Nokia would be interested in revisiting the scene of its smartphone humiliation again, but it does seem to have renewed enthusiasm for consumer devices. This is likely to be a patient affair, combining in-house health-related IoT devices and whatever IP licensees come up with, but it looks like Nokia wants to at least have the potential to exploit the next big gadget thing as and when it manifests itself.

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