By Frederick Lane / Top Tech News. Updated October 02, 2008.
Nokia, the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones, has seen its market become more volatile and competitive. In remarks Wednesday at the Churchill Club, a Silicon Valley business and technology forum, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told attendees that the face of mobile technology is changing.
"The industry as a whole is in the middle of a transformation, and it's a very exciting time," Kallasvuo said. "It's moving from a device industry to an experience industry, and we're making a conscious long-term effort to capitalize on that."
A Host of New Competitors
Kallasvuo specifically noted the many new entrants into the cellular marketplace, including some of the world's largest tech companies: Apple, Research In Motion (RIM), Microsoft and now Google.
"Suddenly you have the mightiest companies in the world there as your competitors. That is a little mind-boggling," Kallasvuo said. At the same time, however, he said that the increased interest in using the Internet on mobile devices has been a boon to Nokia.
In fact, Nokia was to unveil in London the Tube 5800, a smartphone with a touchscreen that will compete head-to-head with Apple's iPhone. According to the gadget trackers at T3, the candy-bar-style phone will run the Nokia Symbian S60 operating system, and will be compatible with the Comes with Music subscription service for downloading music.
At the Churchill Club, Forbes magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard asked Kallasvuo if he liked the Apple iPhone. Kallasvuo was cautious in his assessment.
"Whether I like it or not, I definitely admire the people who make it happen," Kallasvuo replied. "I give Apple a lot of credit and thank Apple. They have done a service to the community. We have a credible competitor."
Another credible competitor, clearly, is Google and its Android operating system, although Kallasvuo said it is too early to know how much impact the new OS will have on the mobile market.
E-mail From Microsoft
At the same time that Nokia is keeping an eye on the new mobile entrants, it is taking direct aim at RIM, the leader in the corporate e-mail field. Thanks to the enormous popularity of its Blackberry devices, RIM currently boasts 19 million business e-mail subscribers.
Early last month, however, Nokia and Microsoft struck a deal to add Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to all Nokia S60 3rd Edition phones (some 43 models). That will enable 80 million mobile-phone users, Nokia said, to connect to Exchange account servers.
"The Nokia-Microsoft collaboration to bring corporate mobile e-mail to businesses and mobile professionals is truly unbeatable," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president of markets for Nokia. "No other device manufacturer provides the wide range of devices that we have, which immediately mobilize the hundreds of millions of e-mail accounts from Microsoft Exchange."
Kallasvuo predicted that "We will exceed the RIM client (BlackBerry) in some months with a very good e-mail system."
A request to Nokia headquarters for elaboration of Kallasvuo's remarks was unanswered as of publication time.