Forbes in 2007: Can anyone catch Nokia?

Exactly 10 years ago, on November the 12th, 2007, Forbes magazine run a front page featuring Nokia’s (then) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo holding a Nokia series 6xxx flip phone. The title on the front page reads: Nokia, one billion customers – can anyone catch the cell phone king?

This Fobres’ cover is interesting because it shows that no one is really too big to fail. In 2007, Nokia was the undisputed king on the cell phone market. Because of its dominance, the company was inert to change and refused to acknowledge the shift the industry was making. In 2007, Apple announced the original iPhone, and 10 years later, the iPhone is the most popular and recognizable smartphone on the planet, while Nokia exited the market selling its phone business to Microsoft.


History teaches us that no one is safe on the free market, and only the companies with the best solutions in their field survive, and for survival, big companies have to transform. Just like Nokia did – from a rubber factory to world’s cell phone king, and then to the biggest network infrastructure company on the planet, like we know her today. Hopefully, the Nokia brand will re-take some of the former glory on the phone market with HMD Global. πŸ™‚

What are your thoughts about Forbes’ 2017 cover? Does it bring up any emotions, memories? Tell us down below. πŸ™‚

  • johala02

    Of course I remember the first iPhone back then. But in perspective it was not realy Apple who take Nokias place in the phone industry. The player who did it was Samsung.
    They are the biggest smartphone company (also featurephones) today. And I guess its Samsung who fear the HMD Global/Nokia comeback more than Apple.

    • Back then I had Nokia N95 8GB and after iPhone came i got the iPhone killer or the 5800XM. That was great phone but but iphone had better design.
      Samsung was always there behind Nokia, waiting and they took her place once Nokia made it possible. Nokia brand is still powerful and to be feard, but it will take much more than Nokia 8 to take the place among the best 5.

      • johala02

        Yes this new Nokia still got a long way to go. But I suppose with a Nokia 9, and a international version of the Nokia 7 and so on they might climb back to top ten in 2018.

      • Stinger

        I got a 6310 back in 2004 and kept it for 7 years! ha ha.

        I love the Nokia 8 as I think it’s the right phone for me (size, specs, looks, price) but I don’t think for a second that the 8 Nokia’s/HMD’s best effort. For sure they will introduce a phone that will leave a big footprint and let the world know that Nokia is back, and they mean business.

      • I don’t understand why decision makers thought that Nokia won’t survive in Android Ecosystem and took decision to go with WP. Nokia was even more stronger back then and they could have easily grabbed the No.1 spot with Android. πŸ™‚

        Just imaging those Lumia designs running Android. πŸ™‚ and also include pureview cameras, clearblack, puremotion hd+. People would go crazy for that stuff and buy a Nokia Android as it would be light years ahead of any manufacturer. I would even say that it would have given much tough competition to the iPhone. I see people in India buying iPhone for two common reasons.
        1. Just to show off and
        2. They are bored of Android Manufacturers and also the OS itself
        Nokia of that time could have refreshed a lot. 1020 would have sold in millions of units. πŸ˜€
        Anyways its just a past no use of thinking about it hehe.
        I just want to see the King reach the No.1 spot again. πŸ™‚

        • The problem with Android back then was that Nokia wanted its map service preinstalled and not Google Maps. Google refused that, Elop was from Microsoft, and Microsoft offered €250 million per quarter as a bonus for using WP. πŸ™‚ At that time, Windows Phone seemed like the best decision

          • I didn’t knew about the Maps issue. πŸ™‚ They should have released it on the play store and marketed it. πŸ˜› Nokia’s fan base is huge enough to make an impact hehe. πŸ™‚

          • Maps were just one problem, but substantial one.

        • Gerrard Jr

          even today…nokia android phone with 1020 camera will still sell millions

          android is much closer to old nokia ui
          people know windows phone does not have bluetooth in the beginning… thousands didn’t buy lumia for that particular reason back in the days of wp7 and wp8

          • Also the absence of Dual Sim until WP8.1 πŸ˜›

          • Gerrard Jr

            exactly…nokia target customer and wp just doesn’t go hand in hand…even though i love wp and lumia

        • It was all in the money that Microsoft offered, and a bit in diversity. When you want to be different, than you need to be on a separate system. If Microsoft did its part well, Nokia would beat the iPhone and hold 15% of the market… Hardware was great, but software was always a year late.

          Nokia on Android would do well as we can see that now. The only differentiation now will be hardware and HMD needs to invest in that.

          • Yes, Nokia actually surpassed iOS in many developing countries with Windows Phones.

      • Hehe, I also had the 5800XM as my first smartphone. Liked how bulky it was πŸ˜€

    • Romandi

      nokia’s doom was themselves not apple and not Samsung if you guys are interested I can link you to articles by tommi Ahonen he has some crazy numbers that tell a very different story to what most people think !

      • johala02

        I agree that Nokia (with Stephen Elop) basicly destroyed themselves. But it was mainly Samung who picked up the pieces and became the big phone company they are today.
        Samsung had around 3% in 2009 three years later they had around 35% of the market.

      • If you find some articles from other sites interesting, you can link it without asking for permission πŸ™‚ (related to the topic ofc). Some time ago, I was analyzing sales and concluded that Nokia’s overall phone volume started declining in 2007, but the category of “smart Devices”, later smartphones had been growing until Elop came.

    • That’s technically correct, but in 2007, Apple sold zero smartphones (ok, maybe a little something in Q4 2007), and now, if we look just the high end segment, Apple sells the most smartphones and has the biggest revenue from smartphone sale overall. In terms of volume, Samsung dethroned Nokia, but the real best smartphone brand out there is the iPhone (talking about brands, not Products here) πŸ™‚

  • Stinger

    Ten years isn’t even a long stretch of time, and Nokia’s fortunes in the cell phone market turned 180 degrees. Maybe their huge size back then meant that they weren’t agile enough to react to the market. I’m not sure. I like their current solution: Let a small, hungry, knowledgeable and intelligent company handle all the day-to-day running of the cell phone business, while you (Nokia) get final say in any decisions. It’s like having a big department that you don’t really have to worry about too much.

    Apart from the Nokia 2 (which I don’t understand) I think they’ve been doing a great job. Nokia phones will be market leaders once again, mark my words.

  • johala02

    Tomi Ahonen talk about this subject around 20 minutes in this YouTube video. Can be interesting to watch and listen:

    • He is making really good points. I’m surprised that his explanation about the switching of Nokia feature phone customers is similar to my understanding of the grand battleplan :D. Thanks for the video. Really informative

      • great video indeed. It is fun to listen his talks.

  • asd, the sentimental fool

    Oh, looking back… So many things come to mind when going through a retrospect. Might be that no one reads this as it is long, but I want to write it. Please comment if you read and have any memories or thoughts about this.

    TL;DR at the end

    One of the most important things I’ve learned from mobile is something Mikko Terho, a Nokia veteran, at the time VP and a Nokia Fellow said in 2011. “Everything in mobile changes in an Olympiad”. He’s now at Huawei, but In 2011 he was speaking at the first (and last) annual Meego Summit in Tampere. It was an Olympiad, 4 years, after iPhone was launched.

    I remember 2007 and the excitement of rumours about an Apple phone. Those iPod renders with T9 keypads and how amazing the real iPhone looked when Jobs announced it. Yes, it was technically inferior. Not a smartphone as you couldn’t install any apps like you could with Symbian and WinMo, only 2G, crappy 2mp back camera with no flash, no front facing camera, no GPS, didn’t even support MMS which really made people laugh. But damn, it was sexy.

    Four years later, the fore mentioned Meego Summit took place month after Elop&Ballmer’s announcement of Nokia going to WinPhone. When the summit was planned and registration opened MeeGo was the future, When it was held, it was already a dead man walking. Intel was still behind it, and we all had hopes that it would still be something. Nokia had said that it would still have “Future disruptions” as one of the three pillars of it’s mobile business. The others were “The next Billion”, which essentially became Asha, and smartphones, which was the to be killed Symbian and WP. I remember that no one really knew what “Future disruptions” was, or at least couldn’t say. The rumour was that MeeGo would be go there and be used somehow. As we later learned, MeeGo(Maemo) was turned into was to be known as Meltemi, which would later be killed.

    It was at that summit that Mikko Terho spoke about Nokia’s Open Source initiatives, which was of big importance in it’s MeeGo strategy. The only thing that still remains clear in my memory from that speech is that “Mobile turns around in an Olympiad”-quote. (I think it was Terho, I remember it was someone from Nokia. Other alternatives are Valtteri Halla and Carsten Munk, but looking at the program written on the old summit badge I dug up, I think it must have been Terho ) It had been about four years since iPhone was announced. Nokia, world’s number one mobile phone manufacturer, had found it self on a “burning platform” and just now had jumped to the ice cold sea.

    As Romandi here in the comments points out, Tomi Ahonen has a good point in saying that Elop devastated Nokia and its future far more than Apple or even Samsung that then picked up the marketshare let behind. If you like to read a lot of text, which you might since you’re reading this, here’s a link that explains Ahonen’s point of view . It is 30 000 words, so beware πŸ™‚ If you’re into open source, another interesting take on Ahonen’s though by Eric S Raymond here . I personally agree with most of Ahonen’s analysis. Not with all of it.

    So anyway, there we were. When the summit took place, N9 wasn’t announced yet, but everyone know it was coming. It was already known that it would not receive great support, being on a platform dumped by the manufacturer. Then the N9 was announced and it was beautiful. It looked better than anything out there. There is a reason it won all those design awards. No phone had had the wow factor since the original iPhone. There was small hope that if it sold well it would it would be supported, but no such chance. Nokia refused to sell it on many important large markets. Nokia even refused to tell how much it sold. (Please, anyone who can get on hold of someone at Nokia, ask them to finally tell the sales numbers. At this point there is no more fear that it would affect any sales.)

    If we take Terho’s Olympiad and go four years forward, we get to 2015. Nokia had sold its phone business to MS and MS had ditched Nokia name in Lumia.

    There is something to the “an Olympiad changes everything” -thought. It has been over six years since I heard that, so might be that I don’t remember it perfectly, but that is how I remember the sentence. I would still like to revise it a bit. Taking it literally as four years, while it has worked here, might be too strict. It would also be wrong to say that it changes everything up-side-down. I’d say, give the mobile industry 4-5 years for it to take a 90 degree change. This is enough to change the big trends, but not turn the landscape a total 180. The successful can get in big trouble, but it’s not enough to kill the giant who was in its prime. Twice the period can do that, the largest can vanish, the unheard of become kings.

    “An Olympiad changes everything”

    2007 – Nokia is the king of the hill, OPK as the CEO on Forbes front page. iPhone announced.

    +4 years = 2011 – Nokia is in distress. The former king and idol is still the largest, but its long term plan of Symbian -> MeeGo is deemed to be faulty and is thrown to trash. Elop as CEO, WP is the way forward. Android, Samsung and Apple have inherited the halo of success. Might be worth pointing out that this is also the year Apple loses its driving force, Jobs.

    +4 years = 2015 – Nokia the phone manufacturer is no more. Microsoft bought Nokia’s phone manufacturing and sells Lumia under its own name now. Nokia has bought the other half of NSN from Siemens. Former NSN CEO Suri as CEO. Nokia is a network company now and announces that it intends to acquire Alcatel-Lucent and merge it into itself.

    +2 = 2017, which means we’re only half way through the next four year period, but MS has already completely given up on manufacturing phones and practically also on WP. Nokia has licensed its name to HMD, a company headed by former Nokians and one that has its HQ next to Nokia’s HQ. Nokia phones are back on market, both basic and smartphones.

    Waiting to see what 2019 will look like.

    • Thank you for such a great comment. I’ve read it in a blink of an eye.
      There is something in that 4 year period. Many things can happen, and many new interesting things develop and push to the market. I really love what Nokia did with phones, bringing high technology to mere mortals.

      Ahonen might seem crazy to many but he foreseen many things correctly, and hope he has been right about new comeback of Nokia (in mobile phone business).

      Next year will be fun regarding the new Nokia smartphones, and in 2019 we could be seeing Nokia name strong as it once was in the smartphone market.
      There is big chance for that.

      • asd

        Thanks, I appreciate the comment. Nice that at least someone read this πŸ™‚ And yes, when you say that Nokia brought high tech to us mere mortals, that’s so very true. N95 was jam-packed with new tech, and that is why it sold so well and competed against the sleek looking original iPhone. Similar feat might not be possible for HMD yet, but in few years, who knows.