Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Nokia

Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Nokia

Article excerpt

The world's biggest mobile maker for years, Nokia has surprisingly low-tech roots. But Finland's best-known brand is losing the smartphone war.

- Formative years

The firm that launched a thousand ringtones began as a paper mill in Tampere in 1865, when Finland was still part of the Russian empire. In 1871, founder Fredrik Idestam opened another mill in the nearby town of Nokia and the Nokia Company was born. By the 1960s it was Finland's leading industrial conglomerate, making everything from rubber boots and bike tyres to cables and electrical machinery. It moved into telecoms and in the 1980s helped develop the GSM standard that would bring mobiles to the masses. In 1992, its bosses took the risky decision to focus on this new technology and sell off its other businesses. It worked: between 1998 and 2001, turnover increased nearly fivefold, from EUR6.5bn to EUR31bn, as it rapidly came to dominate the global handset market.

- Recent history

Although the 'mobile internet' had been around for years, Apple's all-conquering 2007 iPhone showed that the future belonged to pocket-sized gadgets that were as much music players, cameras and games machines as phones. And then there are all those apps ...

Throw in Google's Android OS and Nokia faced trouble, but it tried to rest on its laurels - with disastrous consequences. Since 2007, market cap has plummeted from EUR110bn to less than EUR10bn, and in Q1 this year it posted a loss of EUR1.34bn. In September, 3,500 redundancies were announced, with a further 4,000 earlier this year. …

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