Where is Nokia's Steve Jobs? Not available, just yet

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For the last few weeks I’ve become increasingly fascinated by someone at Nokia. That person is Anssi Vanjoki.

Vanjoki is an interesting guy. Last year he was named one of the 25 most influential people on the Web. Why? He is Nokia’s most visible advocate of what it still, perhaps rather quaintly, calls its “multimedia computers”.

And he’s not some grey executive. Back in 2002 he was awarded what was believed at the time to be the most expensive speeding ticket ever, $103,600, after being caught breaking the speed limit on his Harley Davidson motorcycle in Helsinki.

But this week he hasn’t been quite so visible. As Apple and Steve Jobs unveiled the fourth generation of the iPhone in San Francisco, there appeared to be not a murmur from him or Nokia, still the world’s largest maker of cell phones. Where was Anssi’s thundering response?

After all, this 19-year Nokia veteran will lead Nokia’s fightback against Apple and Google.

Next month the marketing chief will take over at Nokia’s mobile solutions group. It is tasked with researching, developing, and building Nokia’s next wave of phones using the joint MeeGo mobile Linux platform with Intel.

Is he keeping his powder dry? Maybe he is being typically Finnish, and reserving the right to speak only when he really does have something to say.

Perhaps it’s a feint, a tactic he picked up from his hobby of hunting bears?

Except… hold everything. That would make Steve Jobs a Finn as well. Because he never takes the stage unless he has a “boom”, right?

So maybe it’s time to throw the Finnish rule book out the window. Maybe it’s time for a fightback?

The day after Steve Jobs had left the stage of the Moscone Center I contacted Nokia’s press people. Surely, surely now, Nokia would come out fighting?

I mean, it wasn’t as if Nokia was sitting on its hands. The week before the iPhone 4G appeared, it had launched the C3, a very affordable 2G BlackBerry-esque QWERTY phone with Wi-Fi, email and social networking. It was loved in Indonesia.

Interesting. Could Nokia’s iPhone fightback be coming from left field, from the soft underbelly of the developing world?

Maybe Nokia would be listening to the flurry of advice coming from its own fanboys about what tips to lift from Steve Job’s keynotes.

Maybe ‘Frustrated-Pro-Nokia’ fans were starting to convince Nokia to come out swinging.

Maybe Anssi would tell me all about it?

I emailed their press people.

“TechCrunch would like to interview Anssi Vanjoki of Nokia please. Possible?”

Back came the response: “Hi Mike, Could you let me know what you would like to speak to Anssi Vanjoki about? Thanks.”

Hmmnn, I thought. Maybe they haven’t heard about the iPhone?

I tried again. Perhaps they needed reminding.

“How about the strategy for Nokia smartphones and Meego, going forward? I feel Nokia is not getting it’s answers out to the world about this. He is clearly the man driving the strategy.”

They replied: “We’re just looking into this for you now. When would you like to do this interview?”

Er, when the iPhone 5G launches?

I suggested this month might be a good idea.


A day past.

“Hiya” I emailed. “Any movement on this? I would seriously like to do a proper interview. I think he’s potentially a game-changer at Nokia.” Had they not noticed no-one was writing about him and his strategy?

That got a response.

But not from Anssi.

Nokia’s PR team had instead “managed to secure an interview for you with our EVP Alberto Torres who we think would be a great match for your enquiry.”


Anssi, it turned out, would be in Singapore, launching “Nokia Connections” whatever that is.

But seriously, I’m sure Alberto is great, he is, after all, Executive Vice President, Solutions.

But he’s not the potential Steve Jobs of Nokia. He’s not my Anssi…

So, on Monday, I’m going to meet with Alberto, in the hope that it will bring me closer to Anssi. Because right now, he seems like Nokia’s only hope.

But unless we get to speak to him, we may never know.

  • http://www.martinvarsavsky.net martin varsavsky

    I spent quite a bit of time with Anssi this week. I I told a friend today that he does have the arrogance of Steve Jobs so your article caught my eye. He is very different say from Peter Chou from HTC who is a listener and doing phenomenally well these days. Anssi has very strong views. Let’s hope he is right because Europe needs a powerful technology company and Nokia is a remarkable company to be turned around.

    • dude

      nokia is toast… they suck at software have so for decades, they should get android or create devices supporting all different OSs out there, except the ones that sucks the most (MS Windows)… they’ll get eaten alive because the smartphones will move down the food chain..until they are toast. they are asleep at the wheel..time for them to see the light.. but those nordic winters are LOOOONG and by the time they wake up from hibernation they’ll get their assses handed to them…

      • pros

        You can’t deny the fact that Nokia once dominated the Mobile phone industry — since 2000-2005. But ever since that 1st iPhone came, thins got entangled.

        Hopefully, their N8 phone can do something or N9 with the impending iPhone 4 onslaught.

    • Gubatron


      Dile a Anssi que prueben con UN telefono Android y veran que arrazan a Motorola, HTC y cualquier newcomer.

      Nokia needs to get on the Android wagon. To put it this way, I tried the N900 and there’s no way in hell I’m going to buy a Nokia phone if it’s not running Android.

      Follow the geek.

      • tye

        Given Apples market cap I wonder how long it will take for the rebranding to:


      • tye

        So, I wonder how long it will take to see the:

        iAndroid? The MacBook gone mobile and the competition ends and the consumers win

  • davesmall

    Anssi’s best move would be to dust off his CV and send it to Apple. They just might hire him. And living in California would have to be joyous after the arctic wasteland that is Finland. Imagine an entire year with no snow.

    • what

      Scandinavia is awesome, you must know they live better than everyone else on earth right?

    • Steve

      Exactly, California is a wasteland compared to the Nordics

    • Intosh

      Considering how much debt California is burried under, wasteland may not be too far in the future.

  • JAL

    Nokia needs a Steve Jobs. The iPhone 4 is the first iPhone that has fired my imagination. I will have to try before I buy but the hardware seems now to be at a level to rival other Smartphones. That coupled to iOS 4 and infrastructure should create a superior device. I was going to replace my N97 with the N8 (keep my N900 and E72) but Nokia appears to be focusing much of its immediate future handsets on customer interests within emerging economies (has it given up competing with rival manufacturers in the West?), so will wait to see what they create for 2011. Oh, and I have tried a prototype N8 – an N97 with improved specks and usability came to mind – Hmmm!

    • http://gubatron.com Gubatron

      Nokia doesn’t need a Steve Jobs, Nokia needs to release an Android phone and kill everybody else with their awesome hardware.

      The iPhone 4 needs a serious device that Nokia could deliver, however the user experience and the developer experience are lacking on the software side of things for Nokia.

      Nokia on Android would be very hot.

      • http://www.martinvarsavsky.net martin varsavsky

        When I told Anssi that Nokia should release a great Android phone he said that Nokia would NEVER do that.

      • d-d

        Nokia on Android – Amen

  • http://www.ajaxjones.com Ajax Jones

    “Imagine an entire year with no snow.”

    I think you have it wrong way around. perhaps thats the whole thing. Some people like snow. Some people don’t like iPhones.

    • Marc

      @ajax jones +1

  • Michelle Bonner

    The last post I saw from Mike Butcher was him whining about how he couldn’t get an invite to Google Zeitgeist. Now he is whining about getting turned down for an interview with Nokia.

    Seems like TechCrunch either ought to hire a more senior correspondent with better connections or stop trying to cover tech news in the EU.

    Either way, cut your whining.

    • Steve

      Right, whats with the whining? A blog community that is not mainstream at all (a large one but still), is whining that a high level VP does not give time for them right here, right now.

      Do you think the “all mighty” Steve Jobs would give you some time right now, right here?

  • http://www.docmurdock.com Michael Murdock

    Nokia doesn’t need “A Steve Jobs”. They need products that aren’t crap. They also need a UI that works and is one that resonates with people.

    Everyone is trying to copy Apple yet again. What they’re not doing is owning their own technology and innovating something new.

    Apple has taken what it developed and taking it up to a whole new level.

    The problem that others are having is they don’t have their own hardware to use, their own cpu’s to use, their own operating system to use, and if they do, they’re trying to sweep the market instead of doing proper testing, implementation and striving to deliver the best user experience around.

    Apple is. Get a clue Nokia, YOU’RE NOT APPLE.



    • BD

      I beg to differ… Apple make one phone, and provide an updated version of the same phone once per year. Then they attempt to convince everyone that it is the ONLY phone in the world ANYONE needs (consumers, business users, etc.).

      Nokia innovates plenty, but certainly does not try to make all it’s customers happy with one phone and phone type.

      • M Dizzle

        Yet, Apple is succeeding in meeting all of their customers’ needs with one phone while Nokia’s cornucopia portfolio obviously is not. Also, they’re doing a pretty good job of getting people to use what once were Nokia’s “innovations.”

        (FWIW – while I may agree with you on the first 3, the iPhone 4 is decidedly not “the same phone”)

        Nokia hit a 52-week low today with no end in sight. Apple’s market cap has gone up something like $150B since iPhone, NOK’s has gone down something line $25B. Just saying.

      • Intosh

        How do you know the iPhone meets ALL its customer’s needs? Do you get a call every time an iPhone user jumps ship? Did you produce that statement with your derriere?

        Apple with one phone would perhaps attract the interest and meet the needs of, say, 300m potential customers. Nokia (and other companies) produces different phones and caters to, say, 3B potential customers. Just different strategy.

        Yet another clueless and blind Apple fan.

      • http://www.soundsector.net Kevin

        Nokia doesn’t innovate. Their last good smartphone was the N95 which was released years ago. Nokia needs to step up their damn game and create some android devices. Symbian is just pure shit. Using an E72 now, and in 3 more days I will order my damn HTC Desire. Anroid yay!

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  • David

    The rest of the world doesn’t care if Nokia has glitzy keynotes, and given Nokia’s phone sales, they’re not exactly desperate nor hopeless.

    MeeGo is not ready to go head to heat with iPhone OS4 or Android Froyo. It will be, and it will take time to perfect. Europeans have no quips about the N900’s UI for the time being, not to say that it doesn’t need improvement, but its not going to kill Nokia. Nokia has plenty of time and money to slowly make something impressive with Intel and the open source community. They have no need to listen to Americans’ impatience; Americans wouldn’t buy a fresh MeeGo phone with no apps available anyway.

    Believe it or not, there are cell phone users outisde of the US and they’re not buying iPhones.

    • nashith

      I have to agree with you, I just came from a trip to India with some of my friends and family. Everybody else had iPhones, me a lousy N900. We got new SIMs and everybody complained about iPhones quick battery depletion due to excessive network search (dodgy network) the phones got so hot to touch when being charged cause of this. A situation came where someone had to get an attachment (PDF) and guess what.. N900 came to the rescue non of the iPhones had a PDF viewer and for some reason Hotmail wouldn’t show the attachment to download. I simply downloaded the file and sent it via BT to a PC to print. Not to mention the surprise on everyone’s face to hear our local music from the cars stereo system via FM transmitter over taking the radio station the driver had put on and me reading local news with special character fonts on my phone. The whole point is, a phone finally made me keep my laptop at home for a vacation and still be in touch ;)

      • http://www.scred.com/ Kristoffer Lawson

        @nashith are you sure they weren’t running Chinese iPhone clones. All iPhones can view PDFs out of the box.

      • nashith

        Ya I am pretty sure they are all originals, but since Apple doesn’t bless our country with iPhones/Apple services, all of those phones were jail broken. I also found this a bit odd, but I couldn’t even see a place in Hotmail to download the attachment either way, let alone view it.

      • http://www.scred.com/ Kristoffer Lawson

        Nokia most definitely does have a Finnish way of doing business: not making noise unless there is something to make noise about. Of course there are times when they (and other Finnish companies) would actually have a reason to make noise, and still really don’t.

        I think over here we’re still getting round the idea that PR and hype is not just “bullshit”. Certainly tech oriented people do feel that way. We tend to have the notion that the product should speak for itself.

    • Intosh

      But but but the “war” is over! Apple sold 100m devices, we’ve reached saturation already! -sarcasm-

      It’s just incredible how some Americans are stupid and clueless. They think that whoever has the most media coverage and the most commercials is the dominating player. Even RIMM sells more mobile devices than Apple and Google, so claiming Nokia already lost the war is monumentally idiotic.

  • http://www.superscout.com Stefan

    I reckon the fact that the 3gs price is about to drop will probably be quite a blow to Nokia and other Phone companies too. The phones (3 and 4) are not huuugely different – anyone who couldn’t afford the iPhone now can.

  • http://mobile-4u.net/nokia-n-gage-qd-review/ Nokia N-Gage QD Review | World's Mobile

    […] Where is Nokia's Steve Jobs? Not available, just yet […]

  • davesmall

    I don’t think Nokia has the engineering capability to compete head to head with the likes of Apple and Google. They’re like Research in Motion and Microsoft. This war is over. The winners are Apple and Google. You can watch the two of them fight it out but don’t expect any other contenders to join the battle.

    • http://www.superscout.com Stefan

      Mmmm but they do have money – so with the right leadership anything is possible. Nokia are still the biggest phone company in the world (I think) don’t forget that.

    • Grahame

      I hate it when every Apple lover thinks that everyone in the world is buying the iPhone..
      Its not happening you lot!! a lot of people own other phones..the same for Google lovers..
      The N900 is an amazing device, but im sure none of these psychos have tried it because they dont know about other platforms..
      I used the iPhone 3GS for 6 months and I have to say that the N900 beats it..
      Nokia will follow these amazing phone with the Meego platform coming early next year..Im already looking forward to it!!
      iPhone soon will be like the RAZR of this generation, a non scalable platform (available only in one device) that is selling just because of fashion & marketing..


      • antonio

        i tried it. it sucks. and it bombed.

  • nashith

    I believe the concept of subsidized phones locked to a certain operator is not very popular among most Asian countries thus the majority of the market cannot afford expensive ($500+) phones. The iPhone 4 has finally caught up and exceeded many (all?) high end phones with regard to specification and UX. But the form factor (like no physical keyboard) or App store concept is still not for everyone, and this is where other manufactures like Nokia or Samsung come in to play.

    • Ans

      Nashith: nor over-priced high-end phones locked to certain operator unsubsidized (and still more expensive than unlocked price abroad).

      That’s where the grey market came in for the items of prestige and luxury (for those that care for the phone more than the any specs or feature or usability it have).

  • walter17

    i’m disappointed that i’m not seeing more nokia products in the past two years.

    i’m tired of not having more choice when looking for a new phone. i don’t want an lg, samsumg, or iphone cellphone.

    i just want a nokia. i’m finding nothing except flip-phones which are old.

    hmmmm, even it’s been months because i’m not finding the right phone that i want to purchase.

    i think it’s time to release those new phones out now.

    • David

      Nokia has released plenty of smartphones in the past two years, like the N900 I’m using right now, but gadget blogs don’t bother covering them due to Google and Apple’s attention whoring.

      PROTIP: Go to nokia.com. Proof that they are making smartphones is there.

  • http://www.brianshall.com Brian S Hall

    A while back I wrote why I thought Facebook should acquire Nokia.


    Facebook’s (‘private’) valuation is putting them within striking range of Nokia’s market cap; equal to equal.

    Nokia makes seemingly great smartphones but they have far too much focus on specs (e.g. but it has 10mp camera!) versus actual usability. The smartphone is the future and there is no path for Nokia to realistically become anything more than a Spain in the smartphone wars.

    But they have relationships with every major carrier. They have mobile phones everywhere. At all price points, across all societies. Facebook could instantly offer robust, full-media service on high-end Nokia phones, could offer SMS-based service in some regions of the world…

    Yes, I know this won’t happen. But it would be nice to see Nokia morph into something great, once again. Plus, it would be interesting to be witness to a world where suddenly 1 or 2 billion people are all connected to the same social media platform.

    • pb

      “it would be interesting to be witness to a world where suddenly 1 or 2 billion people are all connected to the same social media platform.”


      You need to get out more.

  • Intosh

    Not sure what was the point of this article. Lots of companies don’t comment on other company’s product release. What’s the big deal???

    This sounds more like a kid (Mike) being mad for not getting what he wanted (some comments from Nokia so that he can twist and spin it to diss them).

    • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

      I know they won’t comment on other company’s product release, I want them to comment on their strategy going forward. There’s a difference.

      • Intosh

        I thought Nokia’s strategy was already communicated. In a nutshell, it’s called Symbian^3/Symbian^4 and Meego + Ovi + Qt.

      • Graham

        It seems that old Mike does not know that Alberto Torres was recently named as EVP for Meego computers..do you really know what you are talking about mate?


  • Carey Treegal

    As a mobile developer, Nokia/Ovi is a mess of epic proportions. Until there’s a semblance of developer friendly tools and device roadmap it will be a wasteland. They should just get on board with Android. The quality of apps in Ovi is laughable. I don’t see a way to fix this mess.

    • nashith

      What’s your take on the latest version of Qt? I agree with you regarding Ovi store and it’s commercial offerings, but open source applications like Tweego proves the potential for really great applications that could be written using Qt.

  • Steve

    Anssi is a brilliant guy, but the culture at Nokia never allowed him to execute on his vision properly. Moreover, Nokia are simply incompetent when it comes to software and UI.

    Nokia is dying a (not so) slow and painful death.

    iPhone is killing it at the high end.
    Android will kill it in the mid range.
    Chinese handsets are starting to kill it at the low end (in places like India and Indonesia).

    Their 35-40% global market share is forever a thing of the past…

    • Intosh

      iPhone high end, Android mid range? iPhone and Android are competing HEAD ON.

      Nokia grew marketshare in China, India and Latin America.

      “Their 35-40% global market share is forever a thing of the past…”

      That’s what they said two years ago and repeated last year. Yet, their marketshare is still +35%.

    • Mark A

      I love some of the commenters here and their predictions of doom.

      Nokia’s increase in smartphone sales was equal to 60% of Apple’s total sales last quarter. So… uh… no.

      Was there anything else or do we have time for some more ignorant pronouncements from wannabe bloggers who don’t know what they’re talking about?

  • http://marketpilgrim.com/2010/06/10/6102010-update/ 6/10/2010 Update « MarketPilgrim

    […] Where is Nokia's Steve Jobs? Not available, just yet […]

  • toddq

    I thought the Trefis stock analysis program that was featured on techcrunch was interesting. According to it, Nokia is the most undervalued tech stock on their site. So I bought some NOK stock and trusted the trefis system. NOK is now at 52 week low >.< but I am still keeping trust in trefis lol

  • Fiona

    Nokia can do well in smartphones, because it is using open-source solutions… Symbian^3 and MeeGo operating systems.

    iPhone is a closed platform, but Apple can get away with this because it had first-mover advantage in touchphones.

    Microsoft’s is going to fail with Windows Phone 7, because Microsoft will make Windows Phone 7 a closed platform, filtering all software, making a walled garden of its own approved services. It won’t stand a chance as Microsoft is only a very minor player in mobile.

    So back to Nokia… open-source is the way to go. This will ensure Nokia will get much more developer support than Microsoft will in phones. Nokia will use open-source to get a vibrant app ecosystem going.

  • http://stylishfirst.com/ iulian

    here is a list of nokia codes http://stylishfirst.com/nokia-codes/

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  • Tetsuo

    Hellof convoluted post. Get your head out of your ass.

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