Nokia Says ‘Less A Manufacturer, More An Internet Company’; Plans Share Buy-Back

Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) transformation in to an internet service operator continues apace, with CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo telling its annual shareholders meeting in Helsinki today (via release): “Our goal is to act less like a traditional manufacturer, and more like an internet company. Companies such as Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) are not our traditional competitors, but they are major forces that must be reckoned with. Make no mistake: We are taking on these challenges seriously and aggressively.

Kallasvuo said Nokia’s restructure in to two segments (Devices & Services and Nokia Siemens Networks) helped it “focus more attention on developing new businesses around internet services” and will accelerate product and service releases. The potential inside the Navteq acquisition (still pending EC approval) is “huge”, leading also to pedestrian navigation and targeted advertising – location-based services being “the next big thing”.

Handsets are clearly plateauing – Kallasvuo added he expects 70 percent of 2008 sales to be replacements. Nokia Siemens Networks is on track to save two billion euros through cost savings but still has “tough work” ahead. In response to collapsing US market share: “I ask for some more patience from the shareholders. There is quite a lot better to be seen ahead” (via Reuters).

Those shareholders resolved to up board member and Pearson (NYSE: PSO) CEO Marjorie Scardino to vice chair of the board. They’ll get a dividend of 0.53 euros per share. But Nokia resolved to buy back 370 million shares using up to four billion euros by March 31, 2009. Announcement.