The giant mobile phone company Nokia had its origin in 1865, when mining engineer Knut Fredrik Idestam (1838–1916) set up a paper mill at Tampere, Finland. After six years, he shifted to the town of Nokia on the banks of the Nokianvirta River in Finland. Nokia went into the rubber business in 1898. Its cable and electronics venture began in 1912 with the setting up of Finnish Rubber Works. Finally, Nokia Corp. emerged after a merger between Finnish Rubber Works and Finnish Cable Works in 1967. The corporation manufactured varied products, including personal computers, television sets, capacitors, cables, cycles, tires, and even the well-known Wellington boots. Its major focus, however, was mobile communications, in which it became a pioneer.
The Mobira Cityman 200 was the earliest communications model used for military and commercial purposes. In 1979 a merger with Salora Oy resulted in new Mobira Oy–produced mobile phones. After three years, the company introduced the Mobira Senator, an automobile phone. In the same year, Nokia’s DX200 switch became the world’s first operational digital telephone. Nokia launched the world’s first transportable phone, the Mobira Talkman, in 1984. Three years later, it manufactured the Mobira Cityman 900, the first handheld phone. In 1989 the company changed its name from Nokia Mobira Oy to Nokia Mobile Phones. Nokia produced GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones in 1991, making international roaming feasible. International calls through mobile phones ushered a new era of globalization: it was through Nokia’s network that the premier of Finland made the first GSM call in 1991.
The computer and television divisions were not profitable, and beginning in 1992, the company focused on telecommunications only. This important strategic decision was made mainly due to the initiative of Chief Executive Officer Jorma Jaakko Ollila. Ollila’s tenure as CEO from 1992 to 2006 was an eventful period during which Nokia became the world leader in the mobile telephone industry.
In 1992 the company launched Nokia 1011, the first GSM handset. Two years later, it introduced the Nokia tune in its Nokia 2100 model. The first satellite call was made in the same year with the help of a Nokia GSM handset.
The company introduced the snake game in the Nokia 6110 in 1997. It also launched a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) handset, the Nokia 7110. In the new millennium, Nokia continued to improve mobile technology, and mobiles with sophisticated features flooded the world market. The 3G Nokia 6650 was launched in 2002, and the next year, multiplayer gaming was introduced. The Nseries of 2005 was another improved multimedia version. Nokia had now sold one billion phones to its customers. OlliPekka Kallasvuo became CEO of Nokia in 2006, and Ollila remained as nonexecutive chairperson.
In April 2007 Nokia and Siemens formed the Nokia Siemens Networks. In the internet era, Nokia realized the value of connectivity, which had transformed the communication industry, and introduced the new internet services brand, Ovi. By this time, Nokia was the fifthmost-valued brand in the world. In 2007 and 2008, Nokia acquired companies such as Twango, Enpocket, and Navteq, which operated in video, personal media, and data-sector mapping. Nokia and Microsoft cooperated on network security and e-mail services.
The Comes with Music plan, launched in December 2007, helped Nokia regain its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile phones. Under this plan, customers could download music from Universal Music Group and Sony BMG for one year free of cost.
- Yves Doz and Mikko Kosonen, “The Dynamics of Strategic Agility: Nokia’s Rollercoaster Experience,” California Management Review (v.50/3, 2008);
- Martti Haikio and Olli V. Virtanen, Nokia: The Inside Story (Edita, 2002);
- Pertti Karkkainen and Tero Ojanpera, “Pushing Technology to Where the Market Will Be: The Case of Nokia,” International Journal of Technology Management (v.34/3–4, 2006);
- Michael Lattanzi, Antti Korhonen, and Vishy Gopalakrishnan, Work Goes Mobile: Nokia’s Lessons From the Leading Edge (Wiley, 2006);
- Christian Lindholm et al., Mobile Usability: How Nokia Changed the Face of the Mobile Phone (McGraw-Hill, 2003);
- Trevor Merriden, Cold Calling: Business the Nokia Way: Secrets of the World’s Fastest Moving Company (Capstone, 2001);
- Nokia, www.nokia.com (cited March 2009);
- Jouni Paavilainen, Mobile Games: Creating Business With Nokia N-Gage (New Riders, 2004);
- Jurgen Scheible et al., Mobile Python: Rapid Prototyping of Applications on the Mobile Platform (John Wiley & Sons, 2007);
- Dan Steinbock, The Nokia Revolution: The Story of an Extraordinary Company That Transformed an Industry (AMACOM, 2001).
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