Tag: nokia

Nokia shareholders give Ballmer the keys

Nokia shareholders voted to give Microsoft’s Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer the keys to the executive drinks cabinet.

The former rubber boot maker had agreed to sell its phone business to Microsoft pending shareholder approval. Although many expected shareholders to be bought off, there was some anger that the Finnish flagship company should be sold off to the Yankees. Nokia’s chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, said he was aware the sale “would raise deep feelings” among Finns.

Yesterday’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to vote on whether or not to accept the terms of the company’s proposed sale of its devices and services business to Microsoft turned out to be a bit of a yawn.

The deal, which was first announced in September, is worth $7.35bn USD and also includes provisions for Microsoft to license patents from the Finnish company.

Nic Fildes, Technology and Communications Editor at The Times, tweeted hthat 78 percent of those eligible to vote had already voted before the EGM. Of those early votes, a staggering 99 percent had voted in favour of the sale to Vole.

Amusingly a phrase which did not really cross the translation barrier managed to raise a titter on twitter. Siilasmaa described his old CEO Stephen Elop’s expertise in mobile. “He knows this business like he knows his own pockets”.

The deal is still subject to international regulatory approval, but is expected to be completed early next year. 

Lady Geek wants to turn ladies into proper geeks

Advertising agency Lady Geek has blasted womens’ magazines for failing to cover tech and provide more information on gadgets and computers.

The tech industry is still dominated by men, usually men who don’t know their way around women, hence Lady Geek is trying shake things up with a few interesting campaigns and tech marketers could learn a few tricks from the up and coming agency. 

Just one percent of women think tech manufacturers have them in mind when designing products, yet the number of women involved in electronics purchases both at home and at work is skyrocketing. As many as four out of ten gadgets purchased in Britain are bought by women.

Women currently hold only 17 percent of tech jobs in the UK, although 30 percent of the best paid jobs for a woman are in tech.Luckily, big players have already identified the trend and companies like Dell, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony and Ubisoft are already working with Lady Geek to bring their products to women. Intel is conspicuously absent from the list, although Intel’s President Renee James is one of the highest ranking women in tech.

Lady Geek says it doesn’t want to feminise technology, it just wants to de-masculinise it. In other words, not every tech product needs to look like it was designed by a 9-year-old boy and named by Chuck Norris. Maybe then womens’ mags would be willing to pay more attention to tech, provided their target audience are real women, not Miley Cyrus wannabes. 

Nokia shoots itself in both pheet

Ailing phone company Nokia – now a subsidiary of Microsoft – appears to have looked in the mirror and seen a distorted image of reality after it launched a $500 tablet in Abu Dhabi.

The tablet, named the Lumia 2520, has a 10 inch screen and runs Windows RT. It also includes LTE, if that’s anywhere near you yet.

At the same conference, Nokia-Microsoft introduced three cheap handsets and two absolutely “phabless” phones. The Lumia 1520 and 1320 also run Windows software, with the former set to cost a staggering $750.

Stephen Elop, the former head of Nokia and tipped by some to take over from Steve Ballmer at Vole, came out with a platitude of some size when he said that the Lumia portfolio is growing.  When we say growing, perhaps he meant going, it was hard to hear the din  from this distance.

Presumably Elop has heard of something called the bill of materials….

India freezes Nokia assets over alleged unpaid tax

Indian tax authorities have jumped on Nokia, freezing some of the company’s assets over an allegedly unpaid tax bill.

The Indian Income Tax Department, the Wall Street Journal reports, wants to make sure Nokia has enough cash in the bank to pay roughly 39.97 billion rupees – a hefty, but not unmanageable, $365 million.

If the tax bill isn’t sorted out, the whole palaver could impact Nokia’s sale of its handset business to Microsoft. It has a manufacturing plant in the southern state of India Nadu, which happens to be one of its biggest. Some of the frozen assets were included in Microsoft’s $7 billion Nokia buyout.

The company still sells in the country at a high volume, and it is just behind China in market value for Nokia.

But Nokia spokesperson Brett Young told the WSJ he was quietly confident. “Nokia has sufficient assets in India to meet its tax obligations, details of which will be shared with the tax authorities to allay any concerns they may have”. 

“We went to court, and got a ruling in our favour on Thursday, the bank accounts were unfrozen,” Young sort-of explained.

It’s unlikely the assets will heavily impact on the deal but they could complicate it, and potentially put off other top investors from India, analysts warn. But the Indian state is steadfast in going after perceived tax evasions from foreign companies, including Vodafone, Cadbury, Royal Dutch Shell, General Electric, and BMW AG.

Nokia's first post-Microsoft-buyout act is a price cut

It seems that now Microsoft has its claws into Nokia, the phone company is starting to change its pricing strategy.

The Lumia 1020 launched for $299 which was a little on the pricey side.

Now the Microsoft Store across the pond is selling the 41-megapixel Windows Phone 8 handset for $199 on a two-year contract.

The price is being matched by the AT&T network, but Microsoft is chucking in the camera grip accessory for everyone who picks up the device.

According to TechRadarthe Lumia 1020 has not been selling that well and it is possible that Nokia might have come to the conclusion that the price was too high on its own. However it is also possible that Microsoft is calling the shots and wants to see things a little cheaper.

While the phone has been available in the US since July, it has not generally been available in the UK yet, and it is not clear what its price will be when it arrives.

So far the only place you can pick one up is through the Expansys site for £599.

There is an outside chance that the drop in price of a flagship product is nothing to do with Microsoft’s buy out deal. But $100 is about what the Windows tax would be on the hardware. 

Knackered Microsoft buys knackered Nokia phones

Failing Microsoft has bought failing Nokia’s mobile business in a move that has surprised nobody.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer trousered up over $7 billion in a last desperate bid to make Windows a success on mobile phones – or handys as they call them in Germany. The billions include patents and stuff but don’t include boots.

No wonder Steve Ballmer is set to retire soon.

Three HTC staff arrested for alleged corporate spying

HTC shares plummeted after it was revealed three design executives had been arrested on suspicion of leaking trade secrets.

This is the latest in a long list of woes for the company which has seen senior staff departures and disappointing sales.

According to the Bangkok Post, HTC vice president of product design Thomas Chien, research and development director Wu Chien-Hung and senior manager of design and innovation Justin Huang were arrested on Friday.

Chien and Chien-Hung remain in custody, while Huang has been bailed.

They also face charges of making false commission fee claims of more than $334,200. So far there is no information on what that charge is about.

HTC said the investigation had no impact on its operations. Chien and Chien-Hung could not be reached and Huang was not immediately available to comment.

It looks like the executives were planning to use stolen new interface technology to set up a new mobile design company aiming at Chinese vendors. Shares dropped 6.4 percent on the back of the news.

HTC has been troubled by internal feuding and executive exits as its high priced smartphones are unable to compete in a saturated market, despite good reviews. HTC has seen its market share slump to below five percent from around one quarter five years ago. 

Top smartphone players own up to dodgy tin – except Apple

Top smartphone makers have released statements acknowledging they may be using tin mined illegally or among very poor working conditions on Bangka Island, Indonesia in their devices – with one noticeable exception, Apple.

Green pressure group Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for some time now about Bangka Island tin mining which it says destroys tropical forests, kills coral, and wrecks lives in the community. Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Motorola, Samsung and LG have all made statements on the region, acknowledging possible serious problems in the supply chain.

As is quite typical of early-stage Apple crisis management, it has not said a word.

Manufacturers are committing to “urgent action” to tackle problems in Bangka, leaving Apple by itself among the top brands to make a statement. 24,000 Apple customers are demanding answers.

A Friends of the Earth investigation found that, in 2011, unregulated and dangerous tin mining has lead to an average of one death per week on the island, while there are also “common” reports of child labour in unofficial mines.

Additionally, silt from this tin mining is killing coral reefs and seagrass, FotE claims, driving away fish from the area, a vital local food source. Farmers are also reportedly struggling to grow crops on acidic soil, itself the product of clearing forests for tin mining.

Samsung said in a statement: “We take all of these matters very seriously and have been engaging with Friends of the Earth and the broader electronics industry on this issue for some time. We are also undertaking a thorough investigation of our supply chain in the region to better understand what is happening, and what part we play.”

Samsung and other manufacturers made clear that they do not have direct relationships with suppliers from Bangka Island, but recognise that it is likely tin from the area does find its way into their products – as it is one of the biggest sources for tin on the planet.

Sony said some Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition members, including itself, are holding discussions on starting joint efforts about sustainability, and looking at the impact of Indonesian tin productions, in partnership with the Sustainable Trade Initiative, the International Tin Research Institute and Friends of the Earth.

The full statements are available here (PDF).

An Apple spokesperson directedTechEye to the company’s Supplier Responsibility page, where it says: “Bangka Island, Indonesia, is one of the world’s principal tin-producing regions. Recent concerns about the illegal mining of tin from this region prompted Apple to lead a fact-finding visit to learn more. Using the information we’ve gathered, Apple initiated an EICC working group focused on this issue, and we are helping to fund a new study on mining in the region so we can better understand the situation.

But FOE insisted initial pressure on Apple from Friends of the Earth was what resulted in the company setting up an industry stakeholder group to discuss urgent action about the problem.

“Yet its current policy is to refuse to acknowledge that iPhones and iPads contain tin mined in devastating conditions,” Friends of the Earth said in a statement.

Super cheap Nokia Lumia 625 leaked

Troubled former rubber-boot maker Nokia has had details of a new phone, tipped to be the biggest on the market, leaked – and it’s going to be cheap as chips.

The Lumia 625 specifications have been leaked by Finnish website puhelinvertailu.com.

It’s rumoured to have a 4.7-inch LCD display with 800x480p resolution and pixel density of 201ppi. Layered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 for resistance against scratches, this screen will feature the super sensitive touch technology that has been seen in other Lumia phones. It will run on Windows Phone 8 and have a 1.2GHz dual-core processor under the bonnet and 512MB RAM

The Lumia 625 is expected to have a 5MP camera with LED flash on the back, but no front unit.

There will be 8GB internal storage and microSD support of up to 64GB. Connectivity options include 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It will be powered by 2,000mAh battery and weigh 159gram. Going by the leaked images of the handset, it will come in green, yellow, white, black and red.

While the official price of the phone has not been leaked there are rumours that Nokia is going to have a crack at making it fairly cheap. The company has to do something to restore confidence in its range.

This will be the fourth smartphone released in as many months, after the Lumia 925, Lumia 928 and Lumia 1020.

Other handsets launched by the company during this period include feature phones like the 208, 207, Asha 501 and Asha 210. 

Nokia Lumia sales up but not by enough

Nokia handset sales fell short of analyst expectations in its second quarter results, prompting fears that Windows Phone may not have been the right choice for the company.

Nokia shipped 7.4 million Lumia smartphones in Q2 – up 32 percent compared to the first quarter, not to be sniffed at. But analyst estimations in a Reuters poll were at 8.1 million units.

The Group had gross cash of €9.5 billion by the end of the quarter and net cash of €4.1 billion. Nokia Siemens Networks contributed gross and net cash of €2.5 billion and €1.4 billion respectively.

NSN drove profitability for the fourth consecutive quarter, with the company ending with an operating margin of 5.3 percent. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said in a statement the company’s recent decision to buy out Siemens‘ 50 percent stake in NSN should “create value for Nokia shareholders”.

Feature phone shipments dropped to 53.7 million, a decline of four percent.  

Ex Microsoft man Stephen Elop was brought in to Nokia to inject some Redmond wisdom. Other Nokia executives at the time, aware its own operating system, Symbian, was faltering, considered Android as an option but ultimately went with Windows Phone.

Since, the company has put out a series of well received Lumia phones and splashed serious money on marketing. But Windows Phone as an operating system has lacked the app ecosystem and cool factor required to win over consumers. It was always up against tough competition: iOS established itself as an early leader and Google responded by making Android available to any company interested in mobile. Microsoft was late to the party and compared to its rivals it had just not seduced enough developers to make the OS appealing.

There is little incentive for iPhone or Android users to make the jump to Windows. Existing customers risk losing their personal investments in their current OS of choice, including cash purchases. Nokia’s big hope was to scoop up a large number of first-time smartphone buyers, but many are opting for cheap Android devices instead.

Nevertheless, Elop noted Lumia sales were at their highest in any quarter so far, and predicts more success in the third quarter.

“We expect that our new Lumia products will drive a significant part of our smart devices revenue,” Elop said.