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Elop: “Ask me Anything”!

Right after the Nokia acquisition by Microsoft there were lots of unanswered questions that necessitated an answer and the man of few words Stephen Elop, presently the executive Vice President of the Microsoft Devices Group, acted in response.

Stephen Elop joined a session named “Ask Me Anything” at Conversations global site and outspokenly responded to the question that were triggered at him.

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Here are the question and answers for if you had missed it.

Question #1 Can you provide some clarity around the rumors that Nokia is to rebrand to Microsoft Mobile? Microsoft has a license to use the Nokia brand for some 10 years, but that doesn’t mean it has to (as far as I can see). What are the chances of Nokia being renamed as the company integrates into Microsoft?

Answer: Microsoft Mobile OS is a legal construct that was created to facilitate the merger. It is not a brand that will be seen by consumers. The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phones products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand

Question #2 Will Microsoft keep up the innovation and pace that Nokia has set with the line of Lumia devices?

Answer: I think we can go even further than that. By combining with MSFT, we will each be able to innovate together in ways that we could not as separate companies. Lots of good things ahead.

Question #3 why did you not make the 1020 with a better photo processing like in the original 808 dedicated image processor? That could’ve taken the edge off in shot to shot timing.

Answer: Great question because it highlights the benefits of the acquisition of Nokia. The 1020 is consistently rated as one of the best camera phones. But, we could have gone further if the engineering teams between MSFT and Nokia were not in separate companies. As we come together, innovation will be able to move faster.

Question #4 As the Executive VP of MS Devices how do you see the future of the integration and cloud utilization between Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox devices going? What would you like to see happen?

Answers: I think that people are looking for and deserve a consistent and continuous experience across their different devices and platforms. A good example of this today is Onedrive, where I have consistent access to my stuff across all of my devices. Same thing with Skype.

Question #5 How about Nokia X future after acquisition?

Answers: Microsoft acquired the mobile phones business, inclusive of Nokia X, to help connect the next billion people to Microsoft’s services. Nokia X uses the MSFT cloud, not Google’s. This is a great opportunity to connect new customers to Skype, outlook.com and Onedrive for the first time. We’ve already seen tens of thousands of new subscribers on MSFT services.

Question #6 when will we get the first Microsoft branded Smartphone?

Answer: I am very excited to be back at MSFT along with my Nokia colleagues. Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. While we are not ready to share precise details, I can assure you that it will not be the “Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network” … too many words! That somehow doesn’t roll off the tongue…

Question #7 What is going to happen to Nokia Mix radio, Nokia TV, Nokia Camera apps and other Nokia apps in Lumia phones. Are they going to disappear? Which one, Nokia or Microsoft, is going to continue developing and updating them?

Answer: We have been building a lot of app’s that have been specific to Lumia, but now those people and efforts will transfer to MSFT. We believe that these types of capabilities are critical to differentiation, so you will see these themes continue.

Question #8 I’ve loved the accessibility options on Windows Phones (I’m severely sight-impaired/blind and hearing impaired) and the addition of Cortana has made things even easier. What sort of further or revolutionary/evolutionary accessibility options can we expect from Windows Phones going forward?

Answer: I’m glad to hear that the accessibility options are helping. Cortana is definitely going to help a lot. I have been using it quite a bit, and it makes a big difference. You’ll see us continue to focus on all forms of advanced natural user interface, many of which will help with accessibility.

Question #9 Hi Stephen! What are some of your favorite apps on Windows Phone?

Answer: It’s no secret that I enjoy “track my life”. I travel a ton, and it is fun to see how I have traversed the world. Also, I enjoy a simple app called ATIS because I am a pilot, and it essential. Finally, it is great to see UBER working within the browser of Windows Phone … I got hooked on UBER just the other day when visiting an unfamiliar city.

Question #10 do you think that Nokia with Android is a good idea?

Answer: When we made the decision to focus on Windows Phone back in 2011, we were very concerned that a decision to pursue Android would put us on a collision course with Samsung, who already had established a head of steam around Android. That was the right decision, as we have seen virtually all other OEMs from those days pushed to the side. Today, we are using AOSP to attack a specific market opportunity, but we are being thoughtful to do it in a way that accrues benefit to Microsoft and to Lumia.

Question #11 is there going to be a successor to the lumia 1020 this year?

Answer: Glad you love your 1020. I take my own 1020 everywhere. While I can’t comment on specific product plans, it is safe to say that imaging will continue to be an important differentiator for us in the future.

Question #12 Selling Nokia rendered you well; do you feel you gave your everything as the CEO? Any regrets?

Answer: During a speech I gave today to the gathered employees of Nokia, errr, Microsoft, I said that the last few years had been both the most challenging and rewarding of my career. Like virtually everyone at Nokia, we worked harder and committed more of ourselves to this mission than anything before. Now, we have the opportunity to take it to the next level within the context of MSFT.

Question #13 Nokia uses ‘color’ as part of their brand. Microsoft products, like Xbox and Surface, have taken traditionally taken a very conservative approach to styling. Can we see more of Nokia’s colorful personality across the larger range of Microsoft’s products?

Answer: You may have seen a video today on youtube that celebrated Nokia’s arrival within Microsoft, and the theme was “more colorful”. Here in Espoo today we are all wearing the bright colors of our devices. I’m pretty sure you will see this “colorful” personality transcend into MSFT

Question #14 You’re so cool killed Nokia …Thanks to you, Meego, Symbian, Meltemi buried …Once you get it all comes back to haunt

Answer: Thanks, I know that there is a lot of emotion around some of the hard decisions that we had to make. Back in late 2010 and 2011, we carefully assessed the state of the internal Nokia operating system efforts. Unfortunately, we could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped THREE years earlier! And the Meego effort was significantly delayed and did not have the promise of a broad enough portfolio soon enough. We had to make a forceful decision to give Nokia the chance to compete again.

Question #15 which is your favorite Lumia?

Answer: While I love all of our children, I must say that I totally love the new 930 (and yes, you can get one soon as well). The quality of the screen is fantastic, audio rocks, and of course the new WP version makes a huge difference.

Questions #16 how are other smartphone manufacturers encouraged to produce or keep producing Windows Phone devices? I can imagine they fear that a lot of Windows Phone APIs will be available for Microsoft Devices only.

Answer: Really good question. It is GOOD for Microsoft to encourage other OEMs to also build WP devices, and there have been some announcements in this direction recently. Our intent is for the Microsoft Devices Group to “make the market” so that others can participate, so we will be doing things to facilitate other OEMs as much as possible.

Question #17 you have bashed very harshly with your efforts to take Nokia to Microsoft, have been awarded as Trojan in online discussions and comments. Do you take any effect of all this on your work/decision?

Answer: As a result of the work that we have done, we have transformed Nokia into a stronger company with NSN, HERE and Advanced Technologies. At the same time, our Devices and Services business has a new opportunity within a stronger Microsoft. As for the Trojan horse thing, i have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member.

Question #18 will the Nokia Developer Ambassadors and DVLUP be shutting down or being absorbed into something not recognizable or less accessible? They have helped many devs become successful, including me, and I’m concerned that the program will be closed down.

Answer: I think we at Nokia have done a good job at involving developers around the world, and this is clearly something we want to continue. Our goal is to continue to have great participation and accessibility. We need the best app’s around the world.

Question #19 Don’t you think the decision of jumping the burning platform was significantly delayed by Nokia? Do you think MSFT will be in the state of competing Android any time soon?

Answer: It’s hard to comment on what came before, but I do know that the “burning platform” galvanized the mindset of thousands of employees with the recognition that we faced a critical situation. We brought urgency into the organization and within 6 months we produced our first two Windows Phone devices. This was faster than we had ever gone before and marked the beginning of our cultural change.

Question #20 One of Nokia’s strengths is its truly global presence, moreso in emerging markets. I believe it responds faster than Microsoft in this regard. Can we expect better localization in these markets in terms of services?

Answer: Both Nokia and Microsoft are global companies, but it turns out that our strengths are complementary. We have great strength in emerging markets while Microsoft has more strength in developed markets. I think this will work well together.

Question #21 What’s your favourite type of pizza?

Answer: Perfect time for that question. it’s four o’clock after a day of celebration and we are getting hungry. The answer: prosciutto ham, mushrooms, green peppers and tomatoes.

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Question #22 Swipe Keyboard on Windows Phone 8.1 is one of the greatest new features, but it lacks multiple languages, e.g. THAI, any plans on more language support soon? Thailand needs one.

 Answer: You are right – it’s a great feature, particularly with the predictive text included. I can’t announce specific timing for languages, but you will see this and other capabilities like Cortana pushed out widely.

Question #23What is the future of innovation/new technologies worked at Nokia R&D dep. as solar charging (wyps) or radio waves charging on Lumia? Will be a move of these project (and others) to Microsoft R&D to allow future innovation just like Nokia did through the years?

Answer: When I first started at Nokia, I characterized the “landscape of unpolished gems” when looking at all the great R&D within Nokia. Now, combined with Microsoft, that landscape is even broader, which is very exciting for all of us? So, stay tuned to lots of innovation ahead.

Question #24 Hi Stephen, as a blogger and long-time time Nokia fan, Nokia Connects (WOMWorld) have been helpful, appreciative to us in many ways particularly in providing review products and services of Nokia. Unlike Nokia Connects, Microsoft Social team is aloof and uncaring. I would to like know the future of Nokia Connects and Nokia Conversations because both are important to us especially to the fans, evangelists.

Answer: Today we are part of Microsoft, and Conversations is with us (actually, sitting right next to me!). And this will continue. I strongly believe in an open and transparent dialogue, and am proud that the team made Nokia Conversations one of the most influential company and technology blogs in the world.

-Parasaran

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