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In high-end phones, the hardware is becoming uniform, so the software is increasingly the ingredient that makes a difference.

Here, Nokia is trailing badly. It uses the Symbian operating system for its smart phones, which is older than Apple’s software and wasn’t designed from the ground up for touch screen phones. Other manufacturers that used Symbian have mainly jumped ship to Android.

“The Android camp is in the process of flooding the market with relatively cheap smart phones (that) knock the socks off Nokia’s current user experience,” Nomura analyst Richard Windsor wrote recently.

Symbian phones had 41 percent of the worldwide smart phone market in the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner, compared with 51 percent a year ago. Android phones, meanwhile grew to 17.2 percent from 1.8 percent. In the trendsetting U.S. market, Android was already the dominant software, according to NPD, another research firm.

Elop’s appearance at a news conference announcing the appointment was in striking contrast to Kallasvuo’s stiff press meetings made in halting English. Elop discussed ice hockey _ close to both Canadian and Finnish hearts _ and even jested about Finnish licorice candy he didn’t like.

“My job is to take this organization though a period of disruption,” Elop told reporters. “Nokia has many great assets in smart phone arena. It’s about the entire experience, it’s about the platform, it’s about the applications, it’s about the services.”

Elop, 46, joined Microsoft in January 2008. Microsoft hired him away from the network equipment maker Juniper, where he served for a year as chief operating officer.

“It seems that Nokia is now ready for an international charismatic leader,” said Microsoft Finland CEO Ari Rahkonen. “He is an international leader with broad international networks, a very charismatic performer and very keen on technology.”

In 2005, Elop became CEO of Macromedia, maker of Flash software, just months before Adobe bought the company. Flash allows people to use their Web browsers to watch Internet video and animation, and the software is now increasingly used on mobile phones

He is a computer engineering and management graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and also served as a systems executive at Boston Chicken, Inc.

Elop has played a role in the growing cooperation between Nokia and Microsoft in recent years. In 2009, Nokia launched its first laptop, a netbook with a 10-inch screen that runs on Microsoft’s Windows 7 software. Previously, access to some of Microsoft’s most popular Web services, such as Hotmail and instant messaging, have been built into Nokia phone models.

The 57-year-old Kallasvuo, who joined the company in 1982, will leave as president and CEO on Sept. 20. Elop will replace Kallasvuo on Nokia’s board, though Kallasvuo will continue to chair the board of the Nokia Siemens Networks unit in a non-executive capacity. Nokia Siemens Networks, Nokia’s joint venture with Siemens AG of Germany, makes networking equipment.

Investors have long been expecting something fresh and new from the company that once had the innovative edge in the industry. That has not happened since Kallasvuo took over in 2006. He has also been unable to tackle problems in the North American market, the company’s worst performer, despite a pledge to make it a top priority.

Nokia also has predicted that while global mobile market will grow 10 percent this year, its own growth will remain flat, and its ailing Nokia Siemens unit continues to see revenue fall.

Nokia, based in Espoo near Helsinki, employs 130,000 people worldwide.

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