On the day that Nokia sold its device and services unit to Microsoft, Thomas Zilliacus, former chief executive of the Finnish firm’s operations in Asia – in partnership with some Nokia employees – set up ‘Newkia’ to focus on the manufacture of Android-based devices.
In an interview with ZDNet, Zilliacus had a stinging rebuke for Stephen Elop, who gambled on Windows Phone to turn around Nokia’s fortunes.
“[The Microsoft deal] reflects the complete failure of the Windows strategy Stephen Elop chose when he was appointed Nokia CEO some two years ago,” he said. “Nokia, which only three years ago was the world’s runaway market leader in mobile phones, is today a small and insignificant brand.”
While praising the Lumia collection of devices, Zilliacus said customers didn’t want the Windows OS because it lacked the ecosystem. There are not enough apps and services built for the platform that users find crucial today, he argued.
“There’s also a general image problem where Microsoft isn’t perceived as a sexy company,” he continued. “Developers think it’s cooler to develop for Android and Apple iOS.”
Targeting the Asia-Pacific market first, Newkia is based in Singapore (although core R&D is based in Finland). The devices will not carry the ‘Newkia’ branding and a new name will be unveiled further down the line.
Zilliacus said he tried to buy out Nokia a year ago with the aim of steering the company towards an Android-based strategy. He was unable to raise enough funds, however, despite approaching several global sovereign wealth and equity funds.