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Nokia’s New CEO Stephen Elop Says “Developers, Developers, Developers!”

Nokia’s newly appointed CEO Stephen Elop, the former head of Microsoft’s Business Division, made a surprise appearance at today’s Nokia World 2010 event in London. He presented the award to the finalists of Nokia’s “Growth Economy Venture Challenge,” a developer contest that came with a $1 million dollar prize. He also used the opportunity to make some brief closing remarks.

Elop replaced the long-time chief exec Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo only days prior to the Nokia World 2010 event start date and the highly anticipated launch of its new line of smartphones running the Symbian^3 mobile operating system. It’s a management change that’s representative of a shakeup going on throughout the company today – other notable high-level departures include Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and a member of Nokia’s Executive Board, whose decision to step down was announced on the 13th of this month, and Nokia’s Board Chairman Jorma Ollila, who announced the following day that he would step down from the board in 2012.

When Elop appeared on stage this afternoon, his message was clear – and familiar. As a former top Microsoft exec, he recalled for the audience Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s rallying cry “Developers, Developers, Developers!,” which Ballmer once shouted at a developer conference for his company earlier this decade. That moment quickly became an Internet meme which never dies, thanks to a video of the event posted online back in 2006.

While Ballmer’s cry was sometimes mocked for its over-the-top nature, the sentiment was appropriate. Developers are key to a company’s success, and Elop wanted to acknowledge that fact.

Before presenting the award, he said he was pleased that his first act as CEO of Nokia was to give one of its developers $1 million dollars. Developers, noted Elop, “bring the ecosystem to life and allow us to compete effectively all over the world.” He also said he was “impressed and humbled” with what Nokia developers do with the company’s technology and platforms.

The winner of the $1 million dollar prize was John Waibochi of VirtualCity.co.ke, a mobile technology and supply chain company in Kenya.

Disclosure: Nokia paid for this reporter’s travel and accommodations to Nokia World 2010.

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