18 June 2012
Derailed by a bump in the road
Nokia was once the leading mobile phone company. It was a company which innovated and turned the mobile phone from something which made and received calls and texts into the smartphone with which we are familiar today.
Yet Nokia encountered a very large bump in the road a couple of years ago when Apple launched the iPhone. Then Android appeared; all of a sudden, a Nokia phone was based on yesterday's technology and the company has, so far, failed to recover.
Since then, the standard 'fixes' have been applied: many jobs have been shed, executives replaced and so on – even disposing of its division producing diamond encrusted phones. Its latest chief exec admitted in a leaked internal memo that Nokia 'fell behind, missed big trends and lost time'. Although it's still selling a lot of handsets, Nokia is running out of time and – importantly – cash; projections suggest that it may not have enough in the bank to last out the year.
Last year, in an attempt to reverse its fortunes, it signed a deal with Microsoft to base its future phones on the Windows Phone platform, but Nokia remains in a bad place. Even if it can turns things round without outside help, there's little time and that is turning the company into a takeover target – Microsoft and Samsung have been rumoured to be interested and both could buy Nokia out of petty cash.
Microsoft is believed to be thinking about using Nokia as a way of reentering the mobile phone market again after its abortive attempt of a few years back. The attraction to Samsung – successful enough as a handset manufacturer – is less obvious and the company has strenuously denied any interest.
Could it be that, whatever happens, the damage to the brand means it's the end of the Nokia name?