Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s smartphones guru, resigns

anssi vanjoki nokias smartphones guru resigns nokiaOne day before Nokia World, the Finnish phone maker announced the departure of its Mobile Solutions leader and 19-year Nokia veteran, Anssi Vanjoki. According to Nokia, he has given six months notice and will continue in his present role until then.

“I felt the time has come to seek new opportunities in my life. At the same time, I am one hundred percent committed to doing my best for Nokia until my very last working day,” said Vanjoki in a statement.

Motorola is relevant again in the smartphone wars, and Nokia needed someone who could get things done to complete in a market dominated by the iPhone and Android. As the general manager of multimedia, many industry watchers thought the man who oversaw the development of the N-Series line of smartphones was the right man for the job. In May, Vanjoki was tapped to head up the Mobile Solutions business, a division he ran successfully from 2004 to 2008, and there were high hopes that he would bully the company back to prominence.

Vanjoki’s departure coincides with the new appointment of former Microsoft exec Stephen Elop as the company’s first-ever non-Finn CEO (Elop is Canadian), prompting speculation that Vanjoki was leaving after being passed over for the top seat.

Jorma Ollila, Nokia’s former CEO during the 1990s and current chairman of the board, is also expected to step down after the company’s general meeting in 2012. The current CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, will remain at the company as chairman of Nokia Siemens Network.

By all figures, Nokia maintains its global dominance, but has stagnated in the US after the initial iPhone launch. It currently has less than 10 percent market share.

By timing the announcement to just before Nokia World, Vanjoki has made sure that no one will be talking about any of the “exciting new devices and solutions” he will be announcing on stage.