Before there were smartphones Nokia made smart phones. Sleek. Colorful. Attractive. Sporting a distinctive, trademarked ring that, because there are so many Nokia handsets in the world, may actually be heard 20,000 times a second.
Nokia’s phones never made a huge splash in the United States, but worldwide they are to this day the market leader with some 300 million in use. In Q4 of last year, Nokia’s flagship Symbian mobile phone operating system boasted more than a third of the world’s market share. At nearly 37 percent, that was 10 percent more than the range of devices running Google’s Android, and more than Apple’s iPhone and Rim’s Blackberry combined.
But Nokia is losing, by leaps and bounds. The handwriting is on the wall. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who joined the company only last September, minced no words last Wednesday when he said the company was standing on a “burning platform.”
So it really came as little surprise when two days later the company announced a massive strategic alliance with Microsoft that would mean the end of Symbian and the adoption of Windows Phone 7 by the finicky Finnish handset maker.
Nokia had nowhere to go. The paradigm shift in mobile phones began little more than three years ago with the first iPhone. That isn’t a lot of time to go through the five stages of grief, even if Nokia had immediately appreciated the seriousness of the iPhone challenge.