Journey of Nokia: A Look Back at the Giants of Finland

The history of Nokia, a Finnish multinational business corporation headquartered in Espoo, Finland, can be traced back to around 150 years.Nokia has had a memorable journey, from a company that made wood pulp to a telecommunications giant. Now, the company is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. Nokia as a brand will no longer be associated with high quality mobiles with great feature as Microsoft plans to kill off the Nokia brand.

A look back at the company’s history reveals an interesting story of transformation and reinvention. Now that Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is confirmed, it’s time to pause and look back Nokia’s journey.

Nokia’s Early Days

Nokia’s story begins in 1865, when mining engineer Fredrik Idestam established a wood pulp mill in southern Finland. Two years later, he built another plant near the Nokianvirta river.  That was the birth of Nokia. With access to the flowing Nokianvirta river, they had potential for generating hydro-power. Later in 1902, the company ventured into the power generation business.

Towards the end of the 19thcentury, a rubber works company called the Finnish Rubber Works was founded. They used Nokia as their brand name. The company then began to experience financial problems, and Finnish Rubber Works bought the company to ensure continued power supply.

In 1967, three companies which had been jointly owned for decades – Finnish Rubber Works, Nokia, and Finnish Cable Works – merged to form the Nokia Corporation.

This company soon ventured into diversified businesses like car tires, footwear, bicycles, power generation machines, communication cables, personal computers and television.It then entered the telecommunications industry and started making mobile radio communication devices for military as well as commercial purposes. Partnering with another company called SaloraOy, they created mobile communication devices and VHF-Radio.

Nokia’s Telecommunication Milestones

In the 1970s, Nokia created the Nokia DX 200, a digital switch for telephone exchanges. In 1982, Nokia released Mobira Senator, a car phone that weighed nearly 10 kilos. Two years later, Nokia and Salora merged to form Nokia-MobiraOy.

Nokia early days

In 1984, Nokia launched the world’s first portable phone, the MobiraTalkman. In 1987, the MobiraCityman 900 was released, one of the first handhelds in the world. By the standards of that period, it was a lightweight device, weighing only around 800g.

From 1992, Nokia began to focus on the telecommunication business, and it rode the crest of the global boom in the mobile telephones sector. In that year, it also came out with its first GSM handset, the Nokia 1011. It continued to make strides in the 90s. The first satellite call was made in 1994 using a Nokia mobile phone. The company also released Nokia 7110, the first WAP phone in the world,at the end of the 1990s.

The company’s series of multimedia mobile phone, called the N Series became a global phenomenon as it sold its billionth handset in Nigeria.

From Symbian To Windows

Nokia was ruling the world of mobile gadgets when Apple came out with its iPhone. Overnight, the rules and even then playing field changed. People now wanted smartphones, gadgets that could do a lot more than make calls and play music.

Many telecom companies had started using Android, the Open mobile OS from Google, as their mobile platform and had already entered the smartphone race. Nokia woke up to the new market a little late, for they had still been using the Symbian OS.

By that time, Microsoft was looking for a partner to make devices that used its own Mobile OS, Windows Phone. So, Nokia and Microsoft entered into a partnership whereby Nokia made mobile phones that ran on the Windows platform.

The Nokia Lumia phones found a market and offered an alternative to the Android and Apple devices. But it could not make much inroads into the market where well established players like Apple and Samsung dominated.

Nokia LumiaNokia’s fortunes began to decline. Microsoft was also struggling to establish a foothold in the mobile segment. It was losing out to rivals Apple and Google. Since Microsoft was a software company, they needed a well-established hardware infrastructure for the design and manufacture of their own Windows based mobile devices. The idea of Nokia being acquired by Microsoft made good sense to both companies.

So, Microsoft is now in the process of buying out Nokia. It’s expected that Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia Mobile who redesigned the company’s strategy around the Windows platform, will now head the new division. This Devices division will be in charge of the main hardware products from Microsoft like the Xbox consoles, the Surface tablets and future Windows smartphones.

Looking Back at Some of Nokia’s Iconic Phones

In itshey day, Nokia was an innovator and trendsetter in the field of telecommunication and mobile devices.The company created memorable devices that were turning points in the history of mobile phones.

In 1982, Nokia released the Mobira Senator, its first car phone. The world’s first wireless car phone, Mobira Talkman, was released in 1984. A huge device by today’s standards, much of its size was because of the battery.

In 1987, Nokia launched its first handheld phone, the MobiraCityman, weighing just 800g. It became famous after the Soviet Premier Gorbachev was photographed while making a call using this phone. Nokia’s first GSM handset was the Nokia 1011. This was also the device used to make the world’s first satellite call.

The famous Nokia tune was introduced in 1994, and the first model to carry this tune was part of the successful 2100 series, the Nokia 2110 handset. The Nokia 8110 was a slider phone designed for business use. The banana shaped slider phone was featured in the huge blockbuster, The Matrix.

In 1996, Nokia came up with the first QWERTY keyboard phone with a 4.5 inch screen, the Communicator 9000. In 1997, Nokia 6110 was released, the first phone carrying Nokia’s popular game, Snake.

The Nokia 8210, released in 1999, sported an internal aerial, and was very small in size. The 3310 model was a huge success with its combination of looks, functionality and affordability.

The Nokia 7560 was the first device to run the Symbian OS. Nokia’s N-Gage was the company’s attempt combine a gaming console with a mobile phone. The experiment wasn’t successful. The 2003 release, Nokia 7600 was noted for two things: one, it was the first 3G phone from the company and two, it sported a funky design.

Launched in 2004, the 7710 was an initial attempt by Nokia at designing a touchscreen device. Nokia also tried out a combo of a phone and a camcorder, the N93, in 2006. The N95 and N97, running on Symbian OS, tried to compete with the iPhone-like smartphones.

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 was released in 2011. It ran the MeeGo OS and had a Lumia-like interface. The 808 PureView was the company’s last Symbian phone. After the company entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft, it released the Nokia Lumia 800, the first Windows Phone device, in 2011.

Looking Ahead…

Nokia is a company that created some remarkable technologies in the telecom sector. From digital switches for telephone exchanges to car phones and satellite phones, the company blazed a trail for others to follow. A few strategic mistakes cost them their dominant position in the mobile phone market, and they were unable to recover from the setback.

For all that, the company has an amazing history of being able to reinvent itself. May be, in spite of losing their separate identity,Nokia Acquisition by Microsoft could save the company’s business. It will be sometime before the results can be seen.


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