NOKIA: Failure and the Comeback

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Growing up, we all had one thing common in our childhood and that is the
presence of Nokia phones around us. There they were, being used with satisfaction
no matter where or how we grow up. In the late twenties, it was the most popular
brand with the highest number of consumers from all around the world. White,
blue, gold or even pink collar workers did not matter which one; everyone had
Nokia phones in their grasp. It truly was an excellent example of brand loyalty and
preference.

Since its inception back in 1865, Nokia had never limited itself on its roots,
Finland. Just like it’s tagline “connecting people” Nokia had kept on connecting
people from all over the world whilst connecting itself to people’s hearts in the
process.

Very soon after its birth, it became the most popular brand specializing in terms of
communication, information technology, and consumer electronics. Nokia
achieved its first acquisition with Mobira. From 1892 to 1987, Nokia had
introduced so many firsts in the world of technology. The first car phone ever was
brought by Nokia in 1892, followed by the first transportable phone back in 1984.
These phones could be used while being inside or outside of cars. In 1987, Nokia
introduced wireless phones which could be carried and used anywhere. When the
Nokia Mobira product line was introduced initially, the phones were pretty heavy;
starting from 10kg. Later on, they were evolved with years and people got the
chance to use phones weighing down from 10kg to 5kg to 800 gms. Of course, this
was definitely a big achievement but Nokia did not stop there.
In the late twenties, Nokia launched its 1011 series handsets which led them to
become popular in the European and US markets as well.

Whilst spreading in the biggest markets, Nokia brought another series; the most popular one; the 2011 series of feature phones in 1994. The company did not have high sales expectations from this series, but it crossed
every record. Starting off with sales of more than the estimated ones, Nokia
became the number one. It seems like their popularity was automatically getting
piled up and the feature phones were getting sold more and more. Everyone loved
them, they were very popular for their offerings like being user-friendly, light and
the ability to be carried, used anywhere. Nokia was gaining more and more fame in
the international market; it seemed like they did not need to do any marketing at
all! As if the phones were selling themselves!

Soon Nokia beat Motorola by gaining a market share of 25%. From 1997 to 1998,
there were very few countries in the world who had not heard of Nokia by then. It
gained a competitive advantage in so many markets like Asia, China, America,
Russia, and Europe and so on. It unlocked one of the greatest achievements every
telecom company wants- secured 20 phones as theirs among the top 50 phones sold
all around the world. No other company could even come near their records back
then! From 2003 to 2005, Nokia topped again and again among all companies with
a market share of 70% while 30% consisted of the remaining companies.
Nokia kept going on.

It kept expanding around the world. It built up offices, stores
and for a while, people did not look at any other brand while purchasing phones.
They just gained a bigger global presence with every step they took.
So what happened to this emerging company, then?
Well, the European and American markets started producing Android and
introducing them to the market. People started to lean towards them easily. Such
began Nokia’s fall in European and American markets while it was still leading the Asian market.

Nokia had not offered smartphones with Android versions to people
then. As people started to learn more and more towards smartphones with google
apps which offer so much more exciting services, also Apple introducing its unique
design and features, Nokia started going down.

There came Samsung, Motorola with their smartphones and flips phones with new
and cool features that attracted a lot of people. American European consumers
started to prefer Apple and Google products whilst the Asian market was
consumed by the new flip phones. The Chinese market pinned another nail on
Nokia’s already going down the wall when they entered the market. Once they started,
there were more than ever phones being produced and offered every day. Phones
with cooler and smarter features suddenly became so easily available to consumers
as days went by; why would they think of Nokia again? There they were, being
introduced to Chinese phones with efficient features at a low price range each day
while Apple products had their uniqueness to offer and smartphones with their
coolest, newest features at a mid-price range.

Nokia did not stop going, it kept going, and bringing new models of its new feature
phones, but it was just not fast enough. By the time Nokia had introduced a new
phone, other companies would have already introduced phones with the same and
even better features. Nokia had its strength: manufacturing phones with very rich
hardware which would last a long time. But people did not care about that. Now
the industry was running based on innovation on software. Consumers were being
exposed to phones which had useful, fun apps with high-end cameras and
processors. People cared about getting the features smartphones or products
offered not for how long they would be providing the services.
Thus, Nokia went down and down in the industry with its Symbian operating
system; which by then was being used by them only.

The world had moved on to Google products, apple store, and the Android operating system. But Nokia failed
to grasp this truth and they did not what to move from the Symbian. They failed to
adapt to the new, changing world. Every mobile company, literally every single
one of them: lava, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, etc. who understood the market
demand went to android. They knew that the Android world was thriving and there
was nothing to do but to enter that world to survive. Nokia did not and it paid the
price. The once expanding every day Nokia had to let a lot off employees go, shut
down many offices and stores; along with the former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.
Nokia was sold to Microsoft for $7 billion and the former CEO was replaced by
Stephen Elop. The new CEO who took Nokia to another phase of darkness.

stephen elop killed nokia
Stephen Elop killed Nokia

Mr. Elop stared with a great decision; to enter the android market. Everything was
planned, even the meeting had been fixed with Google. Suddenly he took a step
back from his decision and decided otherwise. He decided not to give Symbian up
and declined to work with Google. Instead, he decided to work with Microsoft. He
thought it would be better if Nokia merged with Microsoft and introduced a new
type of phone where there would be a different operating system developed by
Microsoft.
But that failed as well. Microsoft operating system is not really designed to be
compatible with the mobile version and as a result, the new Microsoft phones were
not very user-friendly. People found them difficult to use and the name was a
problem as well. People knew Nokia as a mobile manufacturer, but they hardly
knew Microsoft as one. Microsoft, using their name instead of Nokia’s brought
about a negative vibe in the industry. Those phones were not accepted by enough
people and those who bought them initially got rid of the phones after using for a
short while. Mobile services based on location, preference, entertained, etc. and
operating system, camera everything had already moved toward Google and Google products, apple store, and the Android operating system.

But Nokia failed to grasp this truth and they did not what to move from the Symbian. They failed to
adapt to the new, changing world. Every mobile company, literally every single
one of them: lava, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, etc. who understood the market
demand went to android. They knew that the Android world was thriving and there
was nothing to do but to enter that world to survive. Nokia did not and it paid the
price. The once expanding every day Nokia had to let a lot off employees go, shut
down many offices and stores; along with the former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.
Nokia was sold to Microsoft for $7 billion and the former CEO was replaced by
Stephen Elop. The new CEO who took Nokia to another phase of darkness.
Mr. Elop stared with a great decision; to enter the android market. Everything was
planned, even the meeting had been fixed with Google. Suddenly he took a step
back from his decision and decided otherwise. He decided not to give Symbian up
and declined to work with Google. Instead, he decided to work with Microsoft. He
thought it would be better if Nokia merged with Microsoft and introduced a new
type of phone where there would be a different operating system developed by
Microsoft.

But that failed as well. Microsoft operating system is not really designed to be
compatible with the mobile version and as a result, the new Microsoft phones were
not very user-friendly. People found them difficult to use and the name was a
problem as well. People knew Nokia as a mobile manufacturer, but they hardly
knew Microsoft as one. Microsoft, using their name instead of Nokia’s brought
about a negative vibe in the industry. Those phones were not accepted by enough
people and those who bought them initially got rid of the phones after using for a
short while. Mobile services based on location, preference, entertained, etc. and
operating system, camera everything had already moved toward google and google was dominating the market already.

There was no way for Microsoft phones to enter and penetrate the market. Maybe they could still enjoy the last mover
advantages had they not been so slow with their progress. But they could not.
Stephen Elop is the one who took this step and carried on with it. He knew it was
time for Nokia to leave Symbian and start working with MeeGo. MeeGo operating
system was really famous and appreciated back then. The world had already
moved on from Symbian and Nokia needed to as well for its survival. But he failed
to take that step. It’s assumed that Stephen Elop wanted to take over the position of
CEO in Microsoft which belonged to Steve Ballmer at that time. He entered Nokia
with the wrong intention for which Nokia drastically paid the price. Elop was a
resourceful leader with lots of skills, sure. But he had the wrong intention which
led to the wrong acquisition of Microsoft.

Later on, Microsoft brought about feature phones with high quality in the Asian
market. But they were too late. By then, people could buy smartphones made by
Chinese companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi with the same price Microsoft phones
cost. Chinese companies were already dominating as the monopoly of the Asian
market by then.

When those failed, Microsoft replaced the CEO Steve Ballmer by his successor
Satya Nadella. He publicly declared he never wanted Microsoft to take over Nokia
and voted against it. The world had already had android and ios which were
leading the industry. Another system could not come and succeed in this all too
modern technology world unless it was entirely unique. Satya Nadella realized this
as soon as he came into the position and then he gave up on Nokia.
But there were some people who still couldn’t give up on Nokia.

The former Nokia employees from Finland, who had formed their own company HMD. Global, bought the brand name back from Microsoft back in 2016. Being the ones who had once taken Nokia up to sky limit, they just could not give up on their brand. They
thought Nokia could be formed again to be successful with the proper people and
leadership.

So HMD. Global, the home of Nokia phones, bought back Nokia along with all
rights reserved. The employees formed a new system, made efficient plans and
now that they were experienced with Nokia more than ever, they were determined
not to make the same mistakes Nokia once made. They took the feedback from the
market and used them to standardize the overall system. With the goal of
rebuilding the brand name Nokia in mind, they implemented the no risk model;
which implied them to make a better connection with the retailers and the
distributors of Nokia, giving them a high-profit margin as an incentive to provide
more sales. Previously, when Nokia was going on top, the phones were selling at a
boom, Nokia provided the retailers and distributors with a low-profit-margin. Now
that Nokia needed them more than ever, HMD Global did not follow the same
path.

HMD Global, along with its manufacturer Foxconn had made sure Nokia had
moved on from its Symbian os and finally joined the Android world. Now all they
needed was the right marketing to let the world know Nokia was bouncing back.
They targeted the consumer segments where they had the maximum opportunity
market. The phones were in between the price range which can be afforded easily
by people with mid-range income and more. They built a better connection with
retailers, suppliers, distributors, and customers. After sale service center was
formed in over 300 cities around the globe with the goal to provide assistance and
answer any queries of the users. They took the customer opinions pretty seriously
and worked to build better goodwill in the market. All these are working as well!

In 2017, HMD Global sold over 21 million flagship feature phones and Android
phones all over the world. It’s growing more and more as we speak and all because
of the efficient steps taken by the right management.

Nokia was already famous and well-known to people. It was the brand that touched
millions of people’s hearts and make memories for them throughout their lives.
People did not leave Nokia, it seems like Nokia left the world people were
comfortable in for a while. It fell off track and bounced back. All it needed was
what HMD Global did. Together the employees brought back the old brand equity
Nokia had lost, its reliability and its loyalty to people. Being the first one to be
used by customers and sold by retailers, it certainly did not take long for people to
move towards Nokia again once it entered the android industry. People did not
totally forget about Nokia, they just wanted Nokia to meet up with their
expectations. Nokia is not just a brand, it’s the name of emotion to so many. And
now that HMD Global is doing such a great job at maintaining Nokia, we can
certainly hope not losing Nokia again.

Editor:

Yaseen Tasfia

Senior Executive Editor

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