Nokia chief executive offers praise for the iPhone

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo spoke at the AllThingsD conference today where he gave some unexpected praise for Apple’s iPhone in a couple of interviews. If you haven’t caught some of the video, it’s worth a look.

Kallasvuo said the iPhone did a service to the whole telecom industry because it inspired consumers to use mobile devices as if they were computers with all sorts of software and services attached to them.

“No doubt the iPhone was a wake-up call for us,” Kallasvuo said. “But innovation will not stop here.”

Kallasvuo said Nokia holds about 35 percent to 40 percent of the worldwide cell phone market, or 1.1 billion Nokia users. But he emphasized the company is shifting from hardware to solutions, with investments in software and services.

Examples of that include the launch of the Ovi Store, which had a rocky launch yesterday but represents a lot of integration work. The store is built with location awareness in mind so that it can direct users to buy things that are nearby. Nokia is able to do that in part because it bought mapping technology with its $8 billion acquisition of Navteq.

Nokia has a long way to go to catch up to Apple’s AppStore, which has more than 49,000 applications. Kallasvuo said one should not underestimate the challenge, but he believes that Nokia has an opportunity because of its solutions approach.

“The whole industry is at an inflection point,” he said.

Kallsvuo said it was easier to define competition a few years ago: Motorola. Today, the competition includes Samsung, LG, Microsoft, Google, RIM, and Apple. At times, the company has to partner with some of those rivals.

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