Update: Disgruntled Nokia Shareholder Group Disbands
It's only been a few days since Microsoft and Nokia struck a deal to make Windows Phone 7 the latter's only smartphone operating system, but it's already stirred up a hornets nest among a small group of former Nokia employees who are also shareholders.
In an "open letter" to other Nokia shareholders and institutional investors, the group, which calls itself "Plan B," said that if its slate of directors is elected at the company's annual meeting on May 3, it will limit Windows Phone devices to just the U.S., will push ahead fully with the MeeGo smartphone operating system, and sack CEO Stephen Elop -- who is a former Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) senior executive -- for agreeing to the deal in the first place.
"If you elect us to a majority in the Nokia Board of Directors we will ... return the company to a strategy that seeks high growth and high profit margins through innovation and overwhelmingly superior products with unrivaled user experience," the group of nine disaffected shareholders who strongly oppose the agreement with Microsoft that Elop signed off on, said in the letter.
After Elop left his job as president of Microsoft's Business Division -- the group with responsibility for Office -- last September, the two companies inked the landmark deal at a strategy briefing in London last Friday.
Under the terms of last week's agreement, Nokia will adopt Windows Phone 7 as its smartphone mobile operating system, dropping support of its aging Symbian OS as well as the still emerging Linux-based MeeGo phone OS.
Microsoft will also get access to Nokia's global marketing and distribution infrastructure.
In return, Elop has been quoted as saying Microsoft is going to pay Nokia billions of dollars, as well as offloading the cost to develop the operating system.
Additionally, some observers think a partnership between the ailing phone giant and the lagging software titan may make for significant market turn-arounds for both companies, although not likely before 2012.
Plan B members, however, are adamantly opposed to much of the deal.
For instance, the group believes Nokia is making a big mistake by relinquishing control of the phone operating system.
"[We should] maintain ownership and control of the software layer of the Nokia products. Software is where innovation, differentiation and shareholder value can most easily be created," the open letter said.
Other proposals include cutting the number of Nokia's research and development sites down to two. In addition, the group would focus on MeeGo as its mobile OS going forward but also would guarantee to keep Symbian alive for at least another five years.
At least some other Nokia workers have similar opinions to the Plan B members.
When company employees first heard about the pact, as many as 1,500 walked off the job, according to published reports.