Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Microsoft Faces Challenge Bringing Nokia Business Into The Fold

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Nokia shows off his colored shoe while talking about the colors available of the new Nokia Lumia 930 phones during a keynote address at the Microsoft Build Conference Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

Microsoft says its purchase of Nokia's mobile phone business is complete. The deal is meant to help Microsoft deliver a Windows phone to challenge Apple and Google. However the company said it's only the first step in a journey to bring the two organizations together as one team.

With the purchase, Microsoft gains 25,000 employees and a logistical headache. The company prefers to base strategic units at its Redmond headquarters. But Nokia's home is Espoo, Finland, a suburb of Helsinki. The two campuses are 10 time zones apart, so their work days are at odds with one another.

But there are a few comforting similarities. "Espoo is to Helsinki as Bellevue is to Seattle," said Chris Owens, general manager of Microsoft's real estate worldwide.

"We worry about boats and things like that," Owens said. "They worry about their saunas, and how many saunas they have, and they'll pull out their smartphone and show you how they can control the temperature of their sauna — on their Nokia smartphone."

Those are the private saunas, but at Nokia they also have corporate saunas, at headquarters and around the world. It's part of corporate culture, and executives negotiate deals while in the sauna.

It's supposed to be convivial, but it's also contributed to Nokia's reputation as insular, not open to the expectations of outsiders. Until Microsoft's Stephen Elop, Nokia had never had a chief executive from the outside.

Now it has an array of American bosses. And for Microsoft, the challenge of making Nokia part of the team is just beginning.