Nokia Focuses on Mobile Ads, Location-Based Services

Nokia is revising its aims in mobile and location-based services by creating a Location & Commerce business.

Handset maker Nokia-which earlier this year revealed plans to team up with Microsoft on smartphone operating systems-has announced that Michael Halbherr has been appointed executive vice president to spearhead the company's revised mission in mobile and location-based services.

Effective July 1, Halbherr will become a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, reporting to CEO Stephen Elop. Halbherr will lead a new Location & Commerce business, which will be formed by integrating the Navteq business with Nokia's social-location services operations.

The Location & Commerce business will develop a new class of integrated social-location products and services for consumers, as well as platform services and local commerce services for device manufacturers, application developers, Internet services providers, merchants and advertisers.

While continuing to serve Navteq's existing customers, the Location & Commerce business will provide opportunities through the integration of Nokia community data. In addition to a portfolio of products and services for the wider Internet ecosystem, the Location & Commerce business will also create integrated social-location offerings in support of Nokia's strategic goal in smartphones, including Nokia products with Windows Phones, as well as support for bringing the Internet to the next billion-dollar level.

"Focusing on location and commerce is a natural next step in Nokia's Services journey. We will provide next-generation social-location applications and commerce to differentiate Nokia. We also aim to extend our content and services offerings to all consumers by making them available to partners and customers on a wide variety of devices and operating systems," Elop said. "Michael is a widely recognized authority in the fields of mobility and social-location services, and I am delighted to appoint him to lead an area of our business that will be crucial in Nokia's transformation strategy."

Halbherr has been with Nokia since 2006, most recently leading the product unit in Nokia's Services business, based in Berlin. Prior to joining Nokia in 2006, he worked for the Boston Consulting Group and at europatweb, the Internet investment vehicle of Groupe Arnault, overseeing all technology investments. In 2001, Halbherr became CEO of gate5 AG, a supplier of mapping, routing and navigation software and services globally. In 2006, gate5 was acquired by Nokia. Halbherr holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from ETH Zurich, spending four years at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science.

Tero Ojanpera, who served as the acting head of the Services business, will continue as executive sponsor of Nokia's Bridge program designed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship with employees affected by Nokia's workforce-alignment initiatives announced April 27. Under his leadership, the program will invest in facilitating partnership with affected employees, local communities and a variety of partners to support start-ups and create new business opportunities. Tero Ojanpera will continue as a member of the Nokia Leadership Team.

Larry Kaplan, who has served as CEO for Navteq, will continue to support the transition work for the new Location & Commerce business through year's end. Elop announced Feb. 11 that Nokia, effective immediately, was making a major shift, and that Windows, not Symbian, would be the company's primary focus.

The announcement comes at a time when Nokia is struggling to retain market share in the face of rivals like Apple and Samsung. Nokia's position as the top producer of smartphones may well end this quarter, according to a forecast from Nomura. The company noted competition from smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple will reduce Nokia's share in the smartphone market, but thanks to a broad base of mobile phone sales overall, Nokia is likely to keep its lead as the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer.