A clear sign of the direction that new CEO Stephen Elop is trying to take Nokia (NYSE: NOK) under his helm: the company has appointed American Jerri DeVard as its chief marketing officer, a new position at the company. She will begin her role on January 1, 2011, and will also hold the title of executive vice president, reporting to Niklas Savander, EVP and head of Nokia’s Markets unit.
DeVard, who is currently a principal in her own marketing consultancy, the DeVard Marketing Group, has worked with a number of consumer brands over the last 25 years. They include Verizon, where she was SVP for marketing and brand management, and Elop’s own previous employer Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), according to the WSJ.
DeVard will be tasked with rejuvenating and refocusing how Nokia presents itself to the outside world. She will oversee all of Nokia’s marketing, brand management and communications as well as “selected industry collaboration activities,” according to the release.
Selecting an American who has held no past role at Nokia – but knows the telecoms/technology space and how to present it to consumers – is potentially a brilliant move for Nokia, where so far, attempts at improving its image have not quite hit the mark. The launch of the N8 device this autumn, running on the latest Symbian OS, was meant to herald a step change at the company, but it has seen some technical faults. And the company claims 3 million downloads per day now on the Ovi app store, but this is still less than a quarter of what Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is seeing on its app store.
The handset maker has been losing both market share and mindshare in the smartphone segment, while Apple and the many companies developing on Google’s Android platform have steadily risen higher.
The U.S., DeVard’s biggest region of expertise, has been a particular struggle for the company, but given how significant Nokia’s business is outside the U.S., it will be crucial that she, and the rest of Nokia, do not take their eyes off the bigger picture.