The first mobile call in India was made using a Nokia handset. Reminiscing about your feature phone days..? Well, the world still identifies Nokia with cell phones even years after the company gave up its mobile phone business. To dispel this notion, Nokia pledged to change the way the world views it.
From its humble beginning in 1865 as a single paper mill operation, Nokia has found and nurtured success over the years in a range of industrial sectors including cable, paper products, rubber boots, tires, televisions and mobile phones.
The Finnish multinational company rebranded its logo in 60 years at the Mobile World Congress recently held in Barcelona. “This is Nokia, but not as the world has seen us before. Our new visual identity reflects who we are today – a B2B technology innovation leader pioneering digital transformation. We’re driving the future where networks meet the Cloud to accelerate digital across every industry and maximize the opportunities it offers,” said Pekka Lundmark, CEO, Nokia.
Nokia’s history dates back to 1865, when a mining engineer Fredrik Idestam established a pulp mill in Tampere, Finland. Soon after, the engineer expanded this operation to the nearby town of Nokia and founded the company in 1871 and named it after the location. From 1871 to 1967 Nokia witnessed many transitions.
In 1925 Bell Telephone Laboratories (now Nokia Bell Labs) was born from Alexander Graham Bell’s team of engineers and scientists, beginning a legacy of innovations. In 1967, three companies – Nokia, Kaapelitehdas and Finnish Rubber Works merged to create a new Nokia Corporation, restructured into four major businesses: forestry, cable, rubber, electronics and later into military communications.
As history would have it, in 1978 two-thousand customers participated in the first public trial of a cellular phone system designed and developed by Bell Labs. From there on, everything was just a call away for Nokia. In 1991, the world’s first Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) call was made using Nokia equipment.
Soon, Nokia became a household name, here is how: Nokia was a market leader in the telecommunications sector. Back in the early years of cellular phones it produced some of the first commercially successful handsets.
That was the beginning of the mobile phone era and a few years into the 21st century smartphones were introduced. In 2004, the 7710 was Nokia’s first attempt at a touch screen device. Nokia was still the undisputed king of cell phones until a real game-changer was born: In 2007, the iPhone was released and the world settled for a new industry standard. The Nokia N95, known as the “iPhone killer,” was Nokia’s big release for 2007.
Another big player in dethroning Nokia was Android, which became the main mobile operating system on almost every phone that was not an iPhone. Big manufacturers like Samsung were Android loyalists.
Fighting tough competition from iPhone and Android, Nokia found itself struggling to keep up with the change. The Nokia X7 was the first X-Series handset to run Nokia’s Symbian^3 operating system. Nokia N9 was the company’s brave new hope in the fight against Android and iOS. Released in 2011, it ran the MeeGo Harmattan OS. Nokia sales started plummeting and it failed to capitalize on the smartphone boom with its own operating system, Symbian, and in 2011 became the sole manufacturer of Lumia-branded phones running Microsoft’s operating system: The Lumia 800, essentially a reworked N9, was released in November 2011.
In 2014, Microsoft announced it would buy Nokia’s mobile phone business. There were challenges abound as the competition from iOS and Android became ruthless. Good old days were soon gone as things continued going south to the point where Microsoft ended up re-selling Nokia’s phone operations to HMD Global Oy in 2016. Soon after, HMD began marketing Nokia-branded smartphones and feature phones from December 2016.
Fast Forward to 2023, Nokia phones are being sold by HMD Global, however, Nokia as we earlier used to know it has got a facelift: “Along with our new visual identity is ‘the power of n’ – this is how we will communicate our vision to the world. The n stands for the exponential potential of networks. The networks that Nokia is pioneering and has the power to transform the way we all live and work,” said the CEO.
As part of its ambitious network expansion plans, Nokia is aiming for the moon. Nokia Bell Labs is partnering with intuitive machines and lunar outpost to deploy the first cellular 4G/LTE network on the moon as part of a NASA initiative. The company showcased two of Bell Labs’ latest research projects, seen for the first time by the public at Mobile World Congress.