MyNokiaBlog Reader Generated: Nokia Story – End of an Era?

| April 25, 2014 | 33 Replies

1Niko Salminen shares this piece below. Niko’s a long time Nokia fan and reader of MNB and this is his history of Nokia.


Today Nokia officially sold its Devices and Services division to Microsoft.I’ve been an avid mobile gadget enthusiast and a Nokia fan for overa decade, so it’s only fitting to take a stroll down the memory lane and reminiscence the great time I’ve had especially with the devices from Nokia.
It all began in 1999…
When I got Nokia 3210, my first mobile phone. The wow factor was through the roof. The 3210 was Nokia’s breakthrough phone and went on to sell 160 million during its lifetime. In fact it’s the second most sold mobile phone ever.
Not only did the 3210 popularize Snake – the legendarily addicting mobile game – but also it made changeable covers trendy for the masses. There was a wide variety of different covers in sale practically everywhere so it was easy to have a unique phone. I recall having piano black-colored covers with some skeleton symbols (picture not available, but it happened).

Trivia: In 1998 Nokia had just become the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, the title they held for 14 years straight trumping such once renowned global mobile phone brands as Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens.

2002: Although I never had the hugely popular, ”indestructible” Nokia 3310, I had something very similar. The music-centric Nokia 5510 shared the exact hardware specifications with the exception of an included QWERTYkeyboard. The 5510 wasmy first QWERTY phone as well as my first one to completely replace a standalone MP3 player. A small nuisance then was that the phone could only store 64 megabytes (about 20 songs) of MP3s as expandable memory in mobile phones was an unknown concept in the early 2000s -I had to make each song really count!
Even nowadays phones act as my primary music player, so clearly 5510’s impact on my use of consumer electronics has been profound.

2003: Not everything Nokia released was an instant hit, or a hit for that matter. In 2003 I purchased Nokia N-Gage, a portable gaming device with smartphone capabilities at that day’s standards. Although the device was a commercial flop, I really enjoyed the strategy games it offered: Pathway to Glory and High Seize made my days(s). N-Gage had quite an unusual way of making phone calls: imagine talking with a taco and maybe you’ll get the picture – otherwise Google/Bing it for the comic relief.
In any case, N-Gage became both my first smartphone and thefirst Nokia with a color screen.

2006: Alreadyas early as 2001 Nokia had launchedtheir first mobile phone featuring a camera: Nokia 7650. It was capable of taking VGA 640×480 still pictures. Two years after that Nokia released the 3650 with the ability to shoot video. That’s why mobile photography has always been an area in which Nokia can be deemed as an industry pioneer.
But not until 2006 did I make my first step into mobile phone cameras. The device was Nokia 3250 that had a 1.3 megapixel camera without any kind of modern fancies such as LED light or autofocus. The 3250 took quite good pictures in direct sunlight, although there was a lot of digital compression. It also featured a twistable keypad: one side incorporated a basic numerical keypad, whereas the other side had controls for music.

2007: Over the years Nokia had experimented with different form factors and software platforms. One of those devices to reach the market was the Nokia 770 carryingMaemo, a Linux-based operating system.  Even though the device was stripped of phone capabilities, it was a full-fledged pocket computer featuring PIM applications and a modern web browser. Consequently internet browsing was an area where the 770 truly shined.
Nokia originally launched the 4.1-inch stylus-equipped 770 in 2005 with an internet tablet branding, but the form factor didn’t really catch on then. The 770 became however a well-known industry instance of a device ahead its time. Further, it was also my first touchscreen device from Nokia.

Trivia: In 2007 Nokia’s devices and services division peaked. The device segment’s market share reached 39 % and the company’s annual turnover was 7 billion euros.

2009: This was a special year, because I met my special someone. With the resistive touchscreen and a stylus-equipped Nokia 5530 XpressMusicI used to send a ton – albeit in a slow fashion – of text messages. The smartphone wasn’t all that great, but for the first time that didn’t matter 😉

2010: Nokia had a lot of success with its camera-centric Nseries, namely N95 and N8. Yet dark clouds started to gather. For years the company had focused on logistics and cost efficiency leaving hardware specifications and user experience to a second place. The tactic culminated in 2009 with the release of Nokia N97, Nokia’s supposed answer for the iPhone. Turned out the device was hamstrung by software bugs and incapable hardware, ultimately leading to a negative effect on the whole Nokia brand as the industry’s leading innovator.
Not only had Nokia been late in the game with a slow introduction of clamshell phones, ultra slim devices as well as smartphones with touchscreens, but they sometimes had the bad habit of releasing smartphones with modest hardware specifications in order to keep the costs down. Sure in the short run huge device volumes brought in staggering profits – but in the long run customers started seeking more balanced options available.
I however chose the N97’s successor, Nokia N97 mini. It was a much-needed revision of the former with an upgraded ROM memory, a great illuminant touchscreen and a stellar 5 megapixel shooter with autofocus.

Trivia: Although there’s a lot debate on Nokia’s success in the touchscreen smartphone market, the 2009-released Nokia 5230 is the most successful smartphone ever with 150 million units sold, followed by the still available iPhone 4s with 60+ million. Further, 9 of 10 all-time highest sold phones are from Nokia.

2011: Early in the year Nokia’s first foreign CEO Stephen Elop made the shocking and infamous “burning platform” speech, which basically ditched the Symbian OS in favor of Windows Phone OS in a manner that made the Symbian smartphone lineup seem obsolete. The memo leaked to the public causing much stir.
Two mistakes no company affords to do are mismanagement and miscommunication – Nokia was guilty on both charges. The strategy shift had been a long time coming, but the way it materialized surprised the industry and its followers.
However, production of new smartphones went ahead. In addition to the Nseries, Nokia’s second successful smartphone lineup was the Eseries: enterprise-oriented smartphones featuring a QWERTY keyboard and a long battery life, commercially most successful of them being E71, E72 and E90.
While by 2011 touchscreen-only smartphones were becoming the gold standard of the industry, Nokia still released a few smartphones with hardware keyboards. One of the last ones was the hybrid Nokia E7 that was a touchscreen smartphone accompanied by a hardware keyboard – in a chassis designed in Finland. I also owned the E7, which I’d describe as a smartphone with an outstanding build quality as well as a vibrant screen, but somewhat held back by software.

Trivia: Many Finnish MPs had the big screened E90 communicator during 2007-2011 parliament term. It’s been common that Nokia has been the main device provider for the Finnish parliament (the result of competitive bidding).

2012: Although Nokia was in financial turmoil;the stock had briefly slumped to all-time low 1,30 EUR and annual losses were at devastating 3 billion, the company still managed to produce something most unique ever to grace the smartphone world. Late 2011 Nokia had launched the N9, one of the last Nokias designed and compiled in Finland. I also owned the N9, which had a buttonless, gesture-based operating system that was very natural and elegant to use. As an instance: you could close any application by swiping from top to bottom (later featured in Windows 8). The phone had no navigation buttons, because all navigation could be carried out simply by swiping to different directions.
However in the days of ecosystems, it wasn’t ready for prime time with a limited software support and scarce availability. At the end of the day, N9 was an extremely user-friendly as well as overall an innovative device worth mentioning about.

2013: The risky Windows Phone venture started to slowly reap in benefits. Firstly, Lumia brand-awareness became higher than Windows Phone’s (validated by Google Trends). Secondly, Windows Phone gained traction among consumers as a viable 3rd platform, resulting in most quarters of 2013 being a record in Lumias sold. Thirdly, while other manufacturers were busy abandoning the platform, Nokia single-handedly saved the Windows Phone ecosystem gaining over 90 % market share in that small but exponentially growing platform.
Despite all the efforts to get back in the smartphone game, the market was ever-changing. It was becoming more and more a duopoly and saturated, leaving profit margins low. The stiff competition situation demanded new solutions, thus both Nokia and Microsoft made their choices.

In 2013 I had the privilege of owning two of Nokia’s last flagships, which couldn’t differ more from one another: Nokia 808 PureView and Nokia Lumia 920.
Whereas 808 relied on the effectively EOLd Symbian, 920 was running on Windows Phone 8. In a sense both incorporated the best of one side; the 808 with a high level of customization and features notably the 41 megapixel ”monster camera”. The 920 featured a smooth and user-friendly OS with Nokia’s in-house software complementing it. And lastly, the 920 offered the famed hardware design with standout colors.
In short, both worlds represent the pinnacle of Nokia.

Through 15 years I’ve owned 38 different phones and 27 of them have been manufactured by Nokia. I’ve seen technology evolve, sometimes in a disruptive manner. I’ve seen manufacturers fall off the race and newcomers joining in. But the thing that always struck me the most is the footprint each manufacturer has left to the industry. In Nokia’s case I’ll always remember the wide variety of form factors, the iconic color palette and the durability to last a lifetime. My highest gratitude to the gifted guys and gals at #Nokia


Category: Nokia

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