One week on from Nokia World, and yet another exec has left the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer. This time, it’s a lot closer to home for us Brits, with Nokia UK and Ireland MD Mark Loughran confirming that he’s heading into the sunset. Well, to set top box maker Pace, but still.
That makes him the fourth high-level Nokia staffer to head for the exit in the past ten days, following ex-CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, smartphone lead Anssi Vanjoki and Chairman Jorma Olila. But what does his departure mean? And will Nokia UK be better off without him? Loughran only took over the top role here in the UK at the start of 2009. In that time, the N97 has come and gone, MeeGo has been hyped but hasn’t yet landed, and the N8 has taken a frankly ludicrous six months to go from official unveiling to availability (you can finally get one this week).
On the plus side, Nokia remains top of the smartphone pile, even if its mindshare has taken an absolute battering. However, Loughran’s departure could end up helping the fightback that Niklas Savander talked up so bullishly last week. Of course, the timing could be better. In leaving, he’s put Nokia back into the headlines for all the wrong reasons in a critical week for the company.
However, a new start is just what Nokia needs here in Blighty. The burgeoning success of the iPhone and Android has left Nokia reeling on these shores, in the smartphone sector at least.
The company just doesn’t have the same cachet as either Apple or Google, but a change at the top of one of its key markets could be crucial. Nokia needs to find a new way of communicating with those who want a top-end mobile phone. Not through cringeworthy campaigns or trying to be cool when, let’s be honest, it isn’t.
This move needs to lead to Nokia being more focused on software and less obsessed with talking about its rivals a habit which is unbecoming and embarrassing (that counts for all smartphone makers, not just Nokia). Loughran has presided over some great launches, especially the slew of excellent Eseries devices. But the N97 and N8 have hardly set the world alight and arrived long after the competition had got their act together.
It’s to be hoped that a new lead will be able to give Nokia new impetus here in the UK and lead the fightback from the front. If the battle to retain supremacy can’t be won here in Britain, it won’t be won anywhere else. Kick some backside here and surely Nokia will be back in the game around the planet.