Nokia’s executive vice president of entertainment and communities, Tero Ojanperä was one of the most memorable characters at our MobileBeat 2009 conference last month. He’s on the cover of the September issue of Fast Company, striking the same patiently condescending Bond villain pose he took when rebutting Google’s Vic Gundotra onstage at MobileBeat. The article is a fairly long, cleanly written exploration of Nokia’s strategy for the future.
Many Americans don’t realize how much Nokia dominates the cellphone world, selling more handsets than the next three or four competitors combined. That’s because in the U.S., only 7 percent of handsets purchased are Nokias. Its touchscreen N97 doesn’t exist as far as American smartphone buyers are concerned. Globally, though, Nokia sold 472 million phones last year.
Instead of settling into its King of the Cellphones role, Nokia is trying to make the leap to become an entertainment brand, just as Apple did a few years ago. For that, Ojanperä is in charge of the company’s media strategy. Ovi, the company’s answer to iTunes, is just one part of that strategy.
“Think about a young boy in India who is getting his first phone,” Ojanperä tells an audience in one scene in Fast Company’s story. “In many ways, this is his first computer and it is connecting him to the rest of the world for the first time.” Nokia doesn’t just want to sell the kid a phone, it wants to sell him the things he downloads onto that phone. Ojanperä struck out trying to get U2 to release their new album as an Ovi exclusive, but that’s the level the guy is working at.
When he speaks at conferences, Ojanperä loves to mess with naysayers’ heads by telling them that Nokia is going to be the world’s biggest entertainment network. After giving them time to roll their eyes at his crazy dream, he explains that before the invention of the cellphone, Nokia, founded in 1871, was known as a manufacturer of car tires and rubber boots.