These are troubled times for the Finnish giant Nokia. It seems like yesterday when they were the premier cell phone makers in the world, indeed less than half a decade ago Nokia were an unstoppable force in the mobile space, then something happened. The iPhone happened.
Ever since Apple reinvented the phone and captured the imagination of consumers and the cellphone market alike, Nokia’s progress has hit a road block, in fact that was the beginning of the very visible end for the cell phone pioneers.
So what are the reasons behind Nokia’s unfathomable decline over the years? Here are some pointers :
Nokia killed Symbian
The first of these was killing their flagship Symbian OS. The Symbian rode Nokia to success for years and when the iPhone and the iOS happened Nokia decided to move away from the one product that had brought them much glory over the years.
MeeGo promised much but never delivered
After moving away from Symbian and trying to focus on an OS that would qualify as a competitor to iOS and Android, Nokia decided to explore their options. In this quest they shook hands with Intel and started working on an OS that could help them get a foot in the door. This was the much talked about experiment with MeeGo. It promised a lot, but that was all it really did. Very soon it was evident that MeeGo was never going to be a mainstream success or at least it hasn’t proved to be one as yet. Part of the problem was that there were never going to be enough developers for the MeeGo platform and hence idea of a platform with limited apps just didn’t appeal to anyone concerned.
The fateful partnership with Microsoft
After shunning MeeGo, Nokia were desperately in search of a mobile OS that could help turn their fortunes around. And they found what was to be their best bet yet – Microsoft and the Windows Phone 7 market. This was a time when even the former – world’s most valuable company – was looking to make inroads into what was a relatively new market for them – the mobile space. When these two iconic companies joined forces to bring an end to Apple’s dominance, the world watched with baited breath.
But then as it turned out the consumers a.k.a. the kings gave their verdict and it was evident that Microsoft’s first foray into the mobile space – Windows Phone 7 wasn’t up to their expectations. The much hyped Nokia Lumia series came with the latest version of Windows Phone 7 and then Microsoft dropped the bomb. As recently as last week Microsoft revealed to the world their first tablet – Microsoft Surface. A product that came with Microsoft’s latest OS the Windows Phone 8, and much to Nokia’s dismay the bosses at the software giant’s offices decided that earlier versions of Windows Phone OS would not get upgraded to the latest Windows Phone 8 version. Which means if you went shopping and bought a brand new Nokia Lumia phone today, it would be running on a system software that would never get any serious upgrades, so you might as well think twice before you go for that shiny new piece of hardware. And if you are among those who just bought the ill-fated device, my advice would be – enjoy it while it lasts.
Support at home diminishing
At home in Finland Nokia has always had a cult following. The company is revered by technology enthusiasts and has been considered an integral part of Finland’s economic growth in the Euro zone. Now with the company struggling to live up to its own expectations, even the Finnish government doesn’t see the wisdom in buying their shares which have fallen over 50% since the start of the year. Recently Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen while humbly accepting Nokia’s contribution to the Finnish economy rejected any suggestions to do the same. What else did they expect after laying off 10,000 jobs and deciding to shut down their legendary plant, Europe’s last major mobile phone factory at Salo. In the process robbing the town of 90% of its tax revenue.
With these reasons contributing to their decline and aided by some bad decisions made by its previous CEOs Nokia seems to be dying a slow and almost certain death. They are however trying their best to keep things together, some of their recent efforts include:
- selling the super-expensive phone brand, Vertu
- and buying Scalado, the Swedish mobile imaging specialists to bolster their imaging technology – PureView.
If Nokia have to survive and get out of their current predicament, they need nothing less than a miracle to do so, better still a Steve Jobs like figure to save the day. I am not sure if Nokia (or for that matter any company on the planet) has anyone in that league at their disposal at the moment, nonetheless all eyes are now on CEO Stephen Elop, who ironically is a former Microsoft executive, to get Nokia out of troubled waters.