Timeline: Nokia Before The Crash-landing

By Madana Prathap Jun 15th 2012
Timeline: Nokia Before The Crash-landing
How about buying a Nokia? Yes, used to be the unanimous and safe answer. It is not quite as easy anymore. Whether you're thinking about buying a Nokia product or shares, you probably want to pause and consider your risk-taking ability now.

Nokia is now staring straight down the barrel of massive project cancellations, job losses and reduced in-house R&D. With as much loss of market-share, and burning through as much cash as it is now, speculations abound of this once-great company being bought out.

Hard to imagine now, but Nokia owned an overwhelming majority of market-share barely three years ago. Indian geeks surely remember all the happy times with their Symbian smartphone, with many who continue to use one even today.

The other mobile OSes on the market seem to have scared Nokia to death. And then having to decide on an OS platform for the future scared them to a second death! Look at the vacillation between the platforms chosen for Nokia devices in recent times:
- Symbian^3, Anna, Belle
- Maemo/MobLin, MeeGo/Tizen
- Windows Phone 7

The above are the platforms Nokia tried – in addition to the existing S60/S40/S30. They seemed to be coasting in auto-pilot mode, then were simply coasting with some losses... Until a new CEO came in and issued a (leaked) memo that promptly got the Nokia ship's engines sputtering and failing like never before.

Here's a quick timeline down the years, of Nokia from its beginnings to today's debacle:

Nokia Tyres1865 – Nokia Company starts in Finland, with a groundwood pulp mill making paper.

1922 – The company is jointly dealing in rubber products, telephone cables and paper. Nokia was previously acquired by a different owner, after going bankrupt.

1967 – The conglomerate Nokia Corporation is formed. Quoting Wikipedia, it was involved in many industries, producing at one time or another paper products, car and bicycle tires, footwear including rubber boots, communications cables, televisions and other consumer electronics, personal computers, electricity generation machinery, robotics, capacitors, military communications and equipment, plastics, aluminium and chemicals.

1984 – Nokia launches one of the first transportable phones, the Mobira Talkman weighing a little less than 5kg. Consumers rejoice (!!). By this time the company had already been in the electronics and radio business for two decades.

1988 – Footwear and tyres businesses spin out. Nokia is focused on the "fastest growing segments in telecom" and begins divesting itself from all else. The displays and TV business throws up huge losses, CEO Kari Kairamo commits suicide.


Nokia had played a key role in establishing the GSM standard.

1989 – Nokia had played a key role in establishing the GSM standard and setup its first GSM network in Finland. By the early-1990s Nokia GSM phones weighing barely half a kilogram (!!) were in consumers' hands.

1994 – The signature Nokia tune makes an appearance as a ringtone in the Nokia 2100 series mobile phones.

1998 – Nokia becomes the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, with its early focus on GSM and overhauled logistics.

2001 June – The Nokia 9210 Communicator is released, and runs an "open" operating system called Symbian. The word "Smartphone" enters official lexicon a year later in 2002 when Microsoft's Windows Mobile powered phones are sold under the "Smartphone hardware platform" name; offering the functionality of a PDA and a mobile phone. However, these devices were positioned for business users and premium-priced to be seen as aspirational.

2002 – The Nokia 7650 is launched, runs Symbian OS v6.1 with Series 60 user interface. Priced well and sold in large numbers, it becomes the first true Smartphone with an OS for the enthusiast masses. In 2004 by innovating with a Smartphone that focuses on games, the Nokia N-Gage repeated the feat. This nurtured a large eco-system of third-party app developers, applications and games that could be paid for, and an underground scene just as vibrant for app piracy.
 Nokia Smartphones
2003 – The Nokia 1100, a value oriented mobile phone is launched, which goes on to become the bestselling mobile phone of all time with over 200 million units sold.

2007 June – Apple's iPhone is announced with a touchscreen and its own OS. Nokia launches its own 7710, which was too late in hindsight. In retrospect, this was the time period when Nokia shares hit the peak on the Nasdaq stock market.

2008 May – At their annual stockholder meeting, Nokia announces that it wants to become an "Internet company", and no longer wants to be seen as "the telephone company". The Ovi service was released in beta form soon after. The same year, Nokia completed acquisition of Navteq, a digital mapping-data supplier. This would stand the company in good stead when it began offering free voice-guided GPS navigation.

2010 April – Nokia went on an extended acquisition spree. Also, devices with the newer OSes began to be announced, such as the Nokia N8 which had a 12MP camera built-in. They would go on to best this in a couple of years, with the Nokia 808 PureView which offered a 41MP camera.
 Nokia camera phones
2010 September 10th Stephen Elop appointed as the new CEO of Nokia. He was previously at Microsoft, as head of the MS Office Business Division. Being of Canadian nationality, he is the first non-Finn to head the company.

2011 February 8th Stephen Elop sends out the "Burning Platform" memo to all Nokia employees, which was promptly leaked to the media. In time, some hail it as a good thing, others lament that it set in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy and has dispatched Nokia down a vicious cycle.

2011 February 11th Nokia announces the big plan that it hopes will turn the company around. The plan is a strategic alliance with Microsoft, whereby Nokia will replace Symbian and MeeGo with the Windows Phone operating system.

2011 September – Quarterly losses amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, market-share and sales are falling, one factory in Romania would be closed, and 3500 jobs would be cut worldwide.

2012 February 8th Nokia announces 4000 job cuts, to be spread across Mexico, Finland and Hungary.

2012 June 14th A fresh round of job cuts is announced, up to 10,000 globally over the course of two years. Closure of production and research sites in Finland, Germany and Canada; sale of luxury phone maker Vertu announced.

The Nokia 1100 went on to become the bestselling mobile phone of all time with over 200 million units sold.

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