Nokia has finally filled the vacant role of president of its Nokia Technologies division, nine months after Ramzi Haidamus stepped down.
The Finnish tech company has appointed Gregory Lee, who had been in various roles at Samsung since 2004 but served as CEO and president for the company’s North America division since 2014.
Haidamus joined Nokia Technologies back in 2014 but left the position last September when he was temporarily replaced by Brad Rodrigues, head of strategy and business development at Nokia Technologies, until they found a permanent replacement.
Once a major brand in the consumer realm, Nokia has shifted focus since it sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft back in 2014. It has doubled down on efforts with its network infrastructure business, Nokia Networks, while Nokia Technologies has played something of a bit part in keeping the brand alive in the public sphere. A number of products now emanate from Nokia Technologies, including its virtual reality (VR) Ozo camera and various products courtesy of digital health-tracking company Withings, which Nokia acquired for $192 million last year — though the Withings brand name is no more.
Nokia has also been edging back into the mobile phone fray, with a number of Nokia-branded devices slowly seeping into the market. Indeed, the company recently established a new business vehicle called HMD Global to design and develop new phones and tablets through a licensing arrangement. A number of Nokia devices have already launched around the world, including a feature phone, while at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, HMD Global revealed that three new Android smartphones were on the way. Nokia’s reentry to the U.S. smartphone market was confirmed earlier this week, with news that the mid-range Nokia 6 was set to launch for $229 through Amazon in early July.
It has hitherto been unclear how serious Nokia’s mobile phone aspirations for North America were, and the appointment of Lee brings just a little more clarity to the situation. As CEO, Lee has spearheaded Samsung’s various consumer businesses for North America, including mobile phones, however he has also been responsible for the company’s broader consumer electronics business in areas such as digital health and VR. This would seem to make him a great fit for Nokia Technologies, given its three current market segments: digital health, digital media (VR camera), and phones.
But the extent to which Lee is charged with bringing Nokia-branded phones to the North American market isn’t clear, especially since it’s technically HMD Global — a separate, independent business — that’s responsible for that segment.
“We have chosen the right leader to take Nokia Technologies forward at a time of renewed excitement about the Nokia brand around the world,” said Rajeev Suri, CEO and president of Nokia and chairman of Nokia Technologies, in a press release. “Gregory’s passion for innovation and operational excellence, along with his proven ability to build and lead global consumer technology businesses, make him well suited to advance Nokia’s efforts in virtual reality, digital health, and beyond.”
Lee will be based in California, where he will report directly to Suri.