No diversification plans into enterprise market, say Nokia

Nokia has no plans to diversify into end-to-end enterprise networking products - at least, not yet, said its chief executive...

Nokia has no plans to diversify into end-to-end enterprise networking products - at least, not yet, said its chief executive officer Jorma Ollila at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo conference in Cannes.

While the company has looked at or is working on areas such as VoIP infrastructure or PBXs, Ollila does not feel it necessary to move into these fields yet. Those additions will, perhaps, happen after 2005, he said.

If Nokia did move into those areas, it would probably be through partnerships, he added.

Ollila also spoke of the significance of forthcoming 3G mobile services for enterprises, Nokia's reliance on its own products and handset software, and Microsoft's foray into the market for mobile communications devices.

Users may be sceptical of 3G now, but by the end of next year there will be an interesting range of handsets on offer and reasonable network coverage, he said.

For enterprise users, the main benefit of 3G will be access to greater bandwidth than is available through existing systems. Because of 3G's wide-area capabilities, it will find a place in the market alongside public Wi-Fi access points, he said.

Nokia itself is evidence that enterprises benefit from mobile communications. All staff now have a mobile phone, while Nokia has reduced the number of fixed lines it uses in Finland from 26,000 to 12,500.

Across the company's 50,000 staff, about 23,000 of them use Nokia's Communicator, a clamshell-format device loaded with software applications and a full QWERTY keyboard.

"It's the corporate gadget. It's very useful," he said.

"It provides a secure way of reading e-mail. We run the company on e-mail and a lot of personal contact," he said.

For now, the Communicator only offers circuit-switched data access, but "higher bit rates will make it even better. There will be other versions in the future," he said.

Gartner analyst Nick Jones questioned why Nokia did not offer smart phones based on several different operating systems like other manufacturers.

Samsung Electronics is backing all in the market for data-capable phones, with models running operating systems from Microsoft, Symbian and PalmSource, while Motorola is moving away from Symbian's software to produce phones running Microsoft's Windows Mobile software and also the open-source operating system Linux.

Nokia is not blinkered in its technology choices, and is always looking for the best way to satisfy customer needs, Ollila said.

"We have been flexible all along. We look at how to bring value to our customers, and to make a bit of money for shareholders in the meantime."

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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