New Delhi: Anssi Vanjoki was ranked among the 25 most influential people on the Internet by BusinessWeek in September, placing him alongside Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer; News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs. Vanjoki, executive vice-president of sales, manufacturing, marketing and logistics at Nokia Oyj, is spearheading a push by the world’s biggest mobile phone maker into what it calls the mobile Internet.
In New Delhi, on a visit to launch a new phone—the Nokia 5800, an iPhone look-alike—Vanjoki laid out his vision for the company and the mobile Internet in an interview. Edited excerpts:
Where do you see Nokia a few years down the line?
If you look at the big trends in the market then we have, more or less, come to exhaustion for the mobile phone as it was. There has been growth in places like India and Africa, but if you look at the penetration of mobile phones, in many countries, (it) is already more than 100%. But at the same time it is very positive for Nokia because the whole concept of the product is changing. It’s not just the mobile phone any more. It is becoming more like a computer...
Now, with the computer squeezed to a size of a small pocketable thing and always connected...that will change the Internet. The Internet is not going to be something that you occasionally peek in, but it is something that you come to live in. It’s something I call living in the media. What has happened is that I am living in my real life here but at the same time there is a part of me in the Internet meaning that I am in the Net all the time. That means my context is constantly communicated through this small computer to other people, to different services.
A good example of this (is) a small application that we have developed and is now on trial. We call it Point-and-Find. It maps my physical location with all the relevant information and when I point my device to a person or object (represented by a mobile or computing device), it gives me all the relevant information from the Web (on that person or object). It allows us to match the real world coordinates with the virtual world coordinates and makes the world kind of mapped.
Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice-president of sales, manufacturing, marketing and logistics at Nokia Oyj. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
We also have 1.2 billion consumers with a Nokia product in their hands. When they move from mobile phones to mobile computers, most of them will remain with Nokia—we know this by the loyalty factors that we have.
So we have the power to put this out there and if it does well then we have the power to change the Internet.
Why hasn’t the adoption of some of these applications already happened?
They are rudimentary in form. Not easy to use.
Has the economic downturn hit Nokia in any way?
Yes, it has (affected) the cellular market and Nokia as a big player. Two weeks ago, we came out with a statement that we are expecting that the business will not grow as much as we had estimated.
Will you be strong enough to acquire assets on the table?
We have not said no to any good opportunity that can accelerate our plans.
Could Motorola’s handsets division potentially accelerate your plans?
No. It would decelerate the plans. Just look at what they have done. They have separated it from the mother company as they see it as a bad asset.
Are you diversifying into an end-to-end cellular phone player with services?
We made a very clear choice a couple of years ago. We understood that first we need to get the computer business happen—that is one way to grow and add value. And, second, since we have a tremendous position in that market, it is only natural that we become a service company. The value of the mobile computer is in its software. So we are a software company that is monetizing its know-how in hardware and increasingly, we will be monetizing our knowhow in services.
Will services ever dominate your business?
Probably that will be after my time. But growth certainly by 2010 will be material for us. Growth is increasingly from services for Nokia.
Will competition from something like Google’s Android be serious, then?
Every competition is serious for Nokia; I don’t know any other kind. Android, from my view, is a very courageous move. If I compare it with Symbian (a Nokia-led effort) making it open source 10 years in development and millions of lines of code, it will be very hard to compete with that asset. It’s why I call Android very courageous. Then, we have an open source asset in the high-end space, Mimo. It takes the power of desktop Linux and squeezes into a mobile phone.