In the early 70’s Nokia invented a new digital switch the telephone exchanges, this began a long history of developing telephone technology that helped transformed the cellular system used around the world, in the late 60’s Nokia was already producing radio telephones that was used in cars and in the military. By 1978, the claimed 100% coverage across all of Finland with their radio systems.
It was just a year later that the diverse Nokia took steps to align with a TV maker called Salora to develop a brand new Nordic mobile telephone network.
It was the world’s first cellular network, an upgrade from the previous radio system used at the time.
It was known as the 1g system, the very first cellular generation which used analog signal.
By the early 1980s, Nokia launched its first car phone, the Mobius senator it was effective but incredibly bulky with each unit weighing in at 10 kilograms.
Soon after they released the Mobira talk man half the weight of the first version but still too clunky and only accessible in a car.
The first truly portable cellular phone was the Mobira Cityman weighing in at just 800 grams, but it came with a huge price tag at 24,000 Finnish marks the equivalent of 8200 U.S. dollars today
due to its exorbitant price a city man didn’t really catch on that was until a photo of President Mikhail Gorbachev president of the USSR was photographed using it in Helsinki in 1987, almost overnight it became a cult status symbol owning it proved your wealth and power it also earned the nickname the Gorba after the Soviet President himself.
Nokia continued developing its cellular network establishing the 2g GSM network that went from analog signals to a digital signal.
by 1987 the 2g system standard across all of Europe it enabled data to be sent digitally eventually paving the way for SMS text messaging in July of 91, the Finnish Prime Minister made the first phone call on the 2g network and about a year later the world’s first text message was sent it read “Merry Christmas”.
The 2g system would later go on to take the world by storm, eventually gaining over 3 billion users
In the early 90s Nokia was facing some financial problems, in an effort to streamline the business they started to sell off divisions and create separate entities.
First, went there paper industry the origin of the whole company, followed soon by tires and rubber production, After selling off most of the other industries Nokia had one singular focus, telecommunications.
In 1994 Nokia released its 2100, a new entry-level phone series designed for anybody to use
It included the now iconic Nokia ringtone and the game snake.
Demand went through the roof originally Nokia predicted a run of 400,000 units for this series, they ended up selling over 20 million worldwide
Nokia couldn’t make the 2100 fast enough, they saw that managers were trying their hardest to buy just enough materials to keep their factories producing.
They created a whole new division to overhaul their entire supply chain.
In Western Europe alone mobile phone users went from 5 million to 23 million in just four short years.
Faced with the same challenges as other brands like Ericsson and Motorola Nokia had to make drastic changes if they were going to keep up with the increased demand for mobile phones.
Instead of relying on one supplier in Japan Nokia learned how to build their technology in their home country and taught it to a Finnish electronic supplier.
They also outsourced their plastics to a Finnish company as well, for their five factories around the world.
Once they solved their supply chain issue Nokia rapidly outpaced its competitors, from 1996 to 2001 they multiplied their revenue 5 times over
What’s also truly amazing is their domination of the industry they had become the world largest mobile phone provider, a position they held for 14 years it appeared nothing could stop the rise of Nokia, and then iphone happned.
In the same year Apple introduced the iPhone which would mark the beginning of the end for Nokia.
The iPhone was more than a mere sleek device made from premium materials a major upgrade from the cheap feeling plastic used by other smart phones at the time.
It was also the world’s first smartphone to feature a multi-touch, display overnight the smartphone touchscreen revolution was born
The world would begin its shift away from physical plastic to digital on-screen keyboards.
Over the next few years Nokia’s global market share would crater to less than 5%.
Today its stock prices plummeted over 90%, since the iPhones debut.
Nokia’s greatest lesson is, to be wary of complacency, innovation went both ways.
On one hand, the advent of 1g enabled their success, and on the other hand, it was their unwillingness to take risks which allowed Apple the opportunity to steal their throne.