NEW YORK – Chris Weber, Nokia’s
new U.S. president, has his work
cut out for him in the U.S., where the
company’s handset share has fallen
dramatically over the years.
Earlier this year, Weber was appointed
president of Nokia Inc. (U.S.) and head of
markets, North America, as part of a worldwide restructuring
effort launched by Nokia to bring in new
management, bring products to market faster, reduce
costs, and partner with Microsoft to focus on Windows
Phone 7 smartphones to reverse the company’s
worldwide market share decline, which was particularly
acute in smartphones.
In the U.S., Nokia was at the top of the heap in
handset sales in the 1990s, but company’s fortunes
changed. Nokia was not known for working closely
with carriers to bring products to market, and its proprietary
Symbian smartphones did not catch on in a
market dominated by Apple’s iOS and Android OS.
The company had also been slow to move from bartype
phones to clamshell phones and sliders as consumer
Nokia hopes to resurrect its fortunes worldwide and
in the U.S. and Canada, where Weber is responsible
for managing the markets organization of Nokia’s device
and services business.
Before joining Nokia, Weber owned a consulting
business focused on helping companies develop worldclass
sales cultures. He previously spent 15 years at
Microsoft, where he held several senior executive positions
in sales, marketing and professional services.
As corporate VP leading Microsoft’s U.S. enterprise
and partner group, Weber was responsible for leading
enterprise sales and marketing across the U.S.
In earlier Microsoft roles, Weber oversaw national
sales strategy, sales operations, enterprise partners
and vertical industry strategy, as
well as sales and marketing for a variety
Here’s what Weber had to say
about his North American goals in
response to written questions:
TWICE: What changes will you make in Nokia’s relationships
with U.S. carriers?
Weber: With the vast majority of smartphones in
the U.S. being sold directly to consumers through
operator channels, the opportunity is clear. We have
re-evaluated and renewed our channel priorities and
will focus on offering consumers Nokia with Windows
Phone devices through our carrier partnerships. Further,
we are adjusting our resourcing and investments in each of these areas – areas like sales rep training and
access to our devices are key to re-establishing Nokia in
the U.S. and in the hearts of consumers.
And it is not just Nokia that is invested in our success. Our
operator customers are working with us because our success
is important to the overall ecosystem.
But, it is about adding new smartphone customers,
not simply churning existing customers. We are perfectly
positioned to attract consumers who are not yet using
smartphones and are perhaps intimidated by the technology.
With Windows Phone, many of the things consumers
would like to do on the mobile are integrated so
that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about operating
multiple apps or functions on the device. In fact, when
we show the operators our Nokia devices running Windows
Phone, right away the comments are about how
the consumer would have to download about six separate
apps on other platforms. So we believe together
with Windows Phone, we can offer a simplified, yet full
TWICE: What changes will you make in your retailer
relationships, mainly in terms of dealer support?
Weber: I mentioned earlier about sales rep training and
providing the sales reps access to our devices. This represents
a major investment from Nokia and from our operator
partners. In addition to retail and dealer programs, the best
thing we can do is to drive consumers into the operator channel
asking for Nokia devices. For us that means a big spend
in marketing. You’ll see that coming in the months ahead.
TWICE: What will you do to boost Nokia’s consumer
Weber: First, we need to launch our products with the
operators. We aim to have a portfolio of products with multiple
carriers in early 2012. We are excited about introducing
our consumer marketing, which centers around “Amazing
When you think about it, we all want our every day to be
a little exciting. Every day is not about the day you do something
like bungee jump off a bridge. Your amazing everyday
may be something that makes you smile during your normal
commute. Capturing and sharing that amazing moment on
your smartphone is what we are talking about here. It’s a fun
way to connect with consumers and lets them know they
don’t have to be a technologist to be able to participate.
TWICE: Do you have a market-share goal and timetable?
Weber: We consider ourselves a challenger in the U.S.
market. So when you think of it that way, there is nowhere
to go but up. Our goals are ambitious, and our time frame
starts as soon as we enter the market. We have said early
2012 and we feel confident that we will deliver.
TWICE: Will Nokia re-enter the tablet market in the
Weber: Tablets are an important consideration in the
smart devices market, but we have no announcements to
make at this time. As our CEO Stephen Elop has said, we
do not want to introduce the 202nd tablet into a crowded
marketplace. Our decision to pursue a tablet strategy
would only be based on a belief that we could introduce
meaningful differentiation into that space.
TWICE: Nokia has traditionally focused on marketing
GSM/HSPA handsets in the U.S. along with low-priced
CDMA feature phones to Verizon and smaller carriers. Will
you add other handset technologies in 2012?
Weber: We are committed to launching products that
meet specific local market requirements – including as we
announced, plans for LTE and CDMA products.