New Nokia CEO Elop Makes Surprise Appearance at Nokia World, Shows Love to Developers

Though he was not slated to attend, Nokia's newly named CEO Stephen Elop makes an appearance at Nokia World 2010 and shows he learned something at Microsoft: Developers matter a lot.

LONDON-Taking a page from his former chief executive's playbook, newly minted Nokia CEO Stephen Elop closed out the Nokia World 2010 conference here by chanting "Developers, developers, developers!"

Elop, who is still listed as president of Microsoft's Business Division, is not slated to take the reins of Nokia until Sept. 21 (with his last day at Microsoft said to be Sept. 20), but he could not resist the temptation of appearing at the annual conference for Nokia users, partners, developers and friends. This year, Nokia held its Nokia Developer Summit in conjunction with the Nokia World event, and Elop made an appearance at the closing of the developer summit, where he awarded a million-dollar prize to a Kenyan developer during the Calling All Innovators and Venture Challenge Award segment that marks the end of the conference.

"I can't help but be proud that my first act as CEO-elect of Nokia is to give you a million dollars," Elop said as he gave the award to Virtual City, a Kilimani, Kenya, company that focuses on supporting small and micro enterprises in emerging markets with solutions for mobile phones.

Elop's former boss, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, is famous for bellowing, "Developers, developers, developers!" to a crowd of developers to convey the importance of the developer base to Microsoft's success. Years later at a Microsoft MIX conference, Ballmer modified the statement to include "Web developers, Web developers, Web developers!"

For his part, Elop entered the Nokia World venue to enthusiasm and applause from the crowd. And developers were clearly his point of focus. "Without you we cannot create the vibrancy and ecosystem we need to be successful and to compete around the world," he said. And further noting the importance of developers to Nokia's ecosystem, Elop said he was "impressed by what you do."

It is important that Elop recognizes the importance of having a strong developer base, a lesson Microsoft and Ballmer learned long ago. Elop need only look back at Microsoft's example of how the software giant built perhaps the strongest rapport between a company and its developer base in the industry.

Nokia's chief technology officer, Rich Green, said he intends to continue to empower Nokia developers with better and more powerful tools. Meanwhile, Purnima Kochikar, vice president of Forum Nokia, Nokia's developer network-its homegrown look-alike of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN)-said she plans to maintain developer involvement by helping them make money on the applications they create for the Nokia platform, among other things.

Elop's presence served to rejuvenate and align the crowd, even as the conference was winding down. The Nokia World show was a bustling event, as Nokia introduced a new family of Symbian smartphones and improved developer tools. Over the two days, more than 5,000 people-including operators, developers, business partners and media from around the world-visited Nokia World 2010.