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Recently I was reading an article on TheVerge  about the decline of Nokia and how the company was able to predict correctly the future of smartphones but failed to implement their ideas. And stories about Nokia always awake my curiosity because I never quite understood why the company end up losing their space in the smartphone market and its eventual sale to Microsoft in 2013. After all, we’re talking about Nokia!!! Maker of 13 of the 20 most sold mobile phones in the world  and creator of the first Adamantium-coated cellphone (the indestructible Nokia 3310).
Well then, what happened?
Well, for starters the mobile phone market changed dramatically in January 2007, when a hippie wearing a black turtleneck shirt and jeans pulled out of his pocket nothing less than something called the iPhone. From then on things began to go wrong for Nokia, in the year of the first iPhone launch Nokia still had a dominant share of the market (49%) but in the following years it was leaning to failure, reaching the measly 3% in 2013 .
The rise of iPhone and later on Android impacted Nokia quite a bit, but Nokia was a innovative company that had always managed to adapt to market trends, and believed they would do the same back then. And as TheVerge’s article itself points out, the company even bet on the right things…
“It’s big… but it’s also beautiful and very thin this time.”
What it seems to be a phrase made by someone from Apple presenting the new iPhone 6, was actually sad by the vice president of Nokia Anssi Vanjoki in 2010 when he introduced the Nokia E7, a smartphone that had a larger screen (at the time) than its competitors and had a aluminum body (similar to what Apple proposed, Nokia did that years ago)
Nokia seemed to know well what the future of smartphones would look like, but still there was something they could not innovate as much as they did with their hardware, and this ended up being a determining factor for the future of the company. And that something was their software.
“They missed the importance of software,” says Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight.
“Nokia make great phones, they still do. They went through this incredible decade of innovation in hardware, but what Apple saw was that all you needed was a rectangle with a screen, and the rest was all about the software.”
This lack of integration has proved to be true in the case of the Nokia N8, the software team was so separated from the hardware team that the integration of both of them was made just weeks before the product’s launch.
Not to mention that they had a number of internal problems involving the development of their operating systems (Symbian and MeeGo), the company looked like it didn’t know which system to choose and they developed both of them simultaneously, wasting a lot of time and engineering work. The constant changes in the UI development requisites eventually caused internal conflicts between development teams, who were not happy about all of this.
With all of that going wrong, it seemed that the right thing to do was to adopt Android as its operating system in order to solve their problems in short term, but Anssi Vanjoki thought differently, he even stated that adopting Android would be no better than “peeing in your pants for warmth in the winter”, and in a way he was right, his statement proved to be somewhat prophetic, just take a look at the financial difficulties that companies like HTC and Motorola are facing today.
For now let’s just hope that Noki.. err.. I mean Microsoft Mobile bring us some kind of innovation in the future, the one that we always expected it to bring and I’m sure they are able to.