Nokia CEO while handing over the company to Microsoft, is quoted to have said “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost” amid tears.
Reading his speech, I couldn’t help going back into the Nokia days. The days of the famous “come fill me in” ring tone. Or the other one that would end with “can you answer my call….”
The Nokia 3310 days. Man, that was the best phone I ever saw. Phone could hit the ground from the roof and scatter in pieces. Gather the pieces and fix them… and you’re good to go. Try that with a Samsung today. Or iPhone! It will fall from a stool, and you’ll never live happily thereafter.
Days when you only charged your phone once a week.. The days of snake game! Those days!
The journey.. The success story!
Nokia has been a respectable company.. having been in business since 1865 (as a paper mill), almost since telephony began.
In 1982, Nokia introduced both the first fully-digital local telephone exchange in Europe and the world’s first car phone for the Nordic Mobile Telephone analog standard.
The first ever GSM call was made with a Nokia phone over the Nokia-built network of a Finnish operator called Radiolinja in 1991. This historic call was made by then Finnish prime minister, Harri Holkeri.
Listen to this! By 1998, Nokia was the world LEADER in mobile phones, a position it enjoyed for more than a decade.
Nokia launched the world’s first international cellular system dubbed Nordic Mobile Telephone network, which linked Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. This was followed by the launch of the company’s as well as world’s first car-phone dubbed Mobira Senator, which weighed in at around 10 kg.
In 1987, Nokia introduced the world’s hand-held compact phone called Mobira Cityman 900. Despite weighing around 800g and carrying a price tag of around $5,456, it sold like hot cakes.
1992, the company’s first hand-held GSM phone Nokia 1011 was launched. It had a 90mins talk time and could only store upto 99 contacts.
This was to be followed later by the launch of Nokia 2100 series of phones; the first to feature the iconic Nokia Tune ringtone. Initial projection was to sell 400,000 but it turned out to be a blockbuster with around 20 million handsets sold worldwide. The company sold nearly 41 million cellular phones in 1998 – helped the company surpass Motorola and become the world’s top cellular phone maker in that year. And by the way, Nokia 6110 was the first phone that came with the classic Snake game pre-installed.
Nokia’s net sales increased over 50% year-on-year, operating profits shot up nearly 75%, and stock price sky-rocketed a whopping 220%, resulting in an increase of market capitalization from nearly $21 billion to around $70 billion.
1998, the company launched the Nokia 8810, its first phone without an external antenna.
1999 saw the birth of Nokia 3210 with an impressive talk time of 4- 5 hours. It extra ringtones and games. Around 160 million units of the handsets were sold, making it one of the most popular and successful phones in history.
Nokia’s cookie started crumpling in 2000s. The new decade brought along a new set of challenges for the company. The convergence of the wireless and Internet technologies coupled with the evolution of the 3rd generation of wireless technologies – that promised enhanced multimedia capability.
2002: The world’s first 3G phone, the Nokia 6650 was launched. The same year, Nokia 3650 was introduced; the first Symbian Series 60 device to appear in the US market. Nokia’s first phone with a video recorder.
The following year Nokia 1100, a budget-friendly phone that sold around 250 million units was launched. It became the best selling phone as well as the best selling consumer electronics product in the world. Incidentally, it was also the company’s billionth phone sold later in 2005.
2004: Nokia 7280 “lipstick” was launched. It was listed as one of the best products of the year by Fortune Magazine. It also featured in the Pussycat Dolls’ “Beep” music video.
2001: Nokia’s profits first crumbled after becoming the world’s top phone maker. This was primarily due to a slowdown in mobile phone market. In 2004, it was reported that the company’s market share was sliding, despite having a 35% lion share.
2007: The compan recalled a whopping 46 million faulty phone batteries manufactured between 2005 and 2006. A large part of the company’s device portfolio was affected.
2008: Android version 1.0 was launched. Nokia’s Q3 profits dropped by 30% as sales decreased by 3.1%. In contrast, iPhone sales sky-rocketed by around 330% during the same period.
2009: Nokia laid off 1,700 employees worldwide followed by admission by the company that it was slow to react to the change in the market. Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, HTC, and LG were slowly eating into Nokia’s market share.
2011: Apple overtook Nokia in smartphone sales in Q2, of the year.
Same year Nokia joined forces with Microsoft to strengthen their position in the highly competitive smartphone market. Three years later, Microsoft’s bought most of Nokia’s Devices & Services, with the deal closing in April 2014.
2012: In an effort to save more expenses Nokia announced closure its oldest factory in Finland and shift its manufacturing to Asia, which had become its largest market by then.
The same year, the company suffered an operating loss of €1.3 billion followed by another round of job cuts, affecting around 10,000 employees.
SO, yeah Nokia didn’t do anything wrong in their business, however, the world changed too fast. And they were too slow or too rigid to mutate. Their opponents were too powerful. Unwillingness to embrace drastic change at the right time was their greatest undoing.
They missed the learning and earning opportunity! They lost their chance of survival.
Remember Kenya’s ‘them days’ products like Cowboy, Hair glo, Sportman cigarette, Asepso, Tetmosol, Treetop etc? Lesson is, consumers are not loyal to brands but to innovation.
If you don’t change, you will be replaced by innovative competition that answers the big question of the day! Service providers MUST answer the questions that emerge every single day. If your thoughts and mindset cannot find relevance in today’s matrix, your elimination is inevitable.
Simply put, tomorrow’s trends will replace today’s advantage.