How Apple incinerated Nokia’s Symbian platform

“In 2008, a journalist in Finland wrote a letter to Nokia complaining that its smartphones were difficult to use, prompting a confidential response acknowledging desperate efforts to catch up with Apple’s new iPhone,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

“One year later Nokia announced MeeGo, and the following year it made plans to shift to Windows Phone,” Dilger reports. “The company is now being sold off for scrap.”

“Seven years earlier at the debut of Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s market cap valued the company in excess of $116 billion, roughly equal to Apple itself. In 2000, before smartphones had gained any traction, Nokia had a peak valuation of $222 billion,” Dilger reports. “Today, Apple’s market capitalization is nearly $400 billion.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
All Microsoft employees should read Stephen Elop’s ‘Burning Platform’ memo right now – September 3, 2013
Nokia CEO Elop: We’re standing on a burning platform – February 8, 2011

23 Comments

  1. Man, I need to dig thru one of my client’s odd & ends drawer and bring home a Palm Treo to show my teenagers.

    Tell them “this is what a smartphone looked like before the iPhone.”

    Might even have a Nokia in one of my scrap electronic boxes. Pitiful when you look back on those phones.

    1. I pulled out an old Palm v I had sitting I a drawer and fired it up. It’s incredible how rudimentary it seems compared to our iPhones but you can definitely see the the lineage. Palm could have done the iPhone before apple if they hadn’t decided to jump in bed with Microsof to try and make a BB style phone. Those Windows powered Treo’s were awful. Now Nokia jumped in bed with Microsoft and they’re all but done. Anyone see a trend here?

      1. LUNCH box!!! Treo!!! Luxury!
        When I wuz young, we pulled a cart to school with our portable computer than weighed 500 pounds! And that was over the rocks and trees. No roads in those days.
        But y’ tell young uns these days what it was like and they don’t believe it. Right, Steve?

  2. While Apple should pat itself on Itself on the back for its accomplishments, they didn’t kill Nokia as much as Nokia committed suicide. My first smartphone was a Nokia E63, followed a year or two later by the E73. They were great phone then but Nokia was resting on self delusion. Calls were made before the iPhone suggestion Nokia start spending some money on updating Symbian. At that time the had about 61% of the world market, especially out of the USA. They ignored those calls and did little. They tinkered with it a little but nothing serious and Apple blew their doors off. Nokia was competing with Microsoft, which was bigger in the USA if I recall. Nokia lost their edge in all their success and believed that brand could make up for innovation, it can’t. Apple would due well to heed history. The mighty can and do fall, usually by their own sword. You can argue that Apple isn’t innovation, but that rings hollow in the face of history. They continue to build and improve, may our expectations are too high, but Apple still delivers often.

  3. iTunes killed Nokia, not iOS per se.

    The Symbian platform, for its time, was not bad. Nokia was simply far too slow to create a meaningful marketplace. Then obviously Nokia management made the strategic blunder that compounded their problems: they failed to evolve Symbian to the touchscreen era. Most manufacturers made the same mistake. Don’t forget, there was a time when “smart” flip and slide phones were all the rage and tons of resources were spent developing electronic origami instead of improving the application marketplace. Jobs, burnt by MS from the desktop developer market share war, did not make the same mistake twice. He made iTunes the best consumer app developer platform.

    The death of Nokia is especially saddening because the company did once build some great hardware. Now it’s chained to the deck of the sinking MS Titanic, which may never see a decent mobile OS, GUI, or marketplace again.

    1. Mike read this:-
      Steve Jobs did not make the same mistake once, the sugar water bozo from Pepsi did.
      The mistake that Jobs made in the first place was to employ him. The ungrateful bozo then stabbed Mr. Jobs in the back causing him to be kicked out of his own company.
      Now Mike, repeat it again.

      1. Crabapple, you have a very narrow view of history. The Mac platform NEVER has as many 3rd party application developers as the IBM (which essentially morphed into the Wintel) platform. Having a small market was no big deal in the early days, but Gates was smart enough to know that developer volume — not quality, not innovation, not security — would win the PC market, and with it, the profits. MS then printed money for a decade while Apple floundered.

        Despite your hatred of Sculley, the reality is that Jobs was an immature proud vengeful and destructive dictator. Apple would have imploded if he had stayed at the helm without adults to keep him from destroying the company. True, Apple’s managerial mis-steps were many without Jobs, but they were small potatoes compared to Job’s fundamental aversion to delivering enterprise products and courting 3rd party developers, most of which could never meet his quality standards. He cast the die, and the Mac has remained the Porsche of the computer industry ever since — with a small but loyal following and completely ignored by ~85% of the world.

        After Jobs grew up and was re-introduced to Apple, market and profit share of the Mac didn’t swing back. It took over a decade of hardware and software refinement to lure developers back. Jobs tried everything: Xserve, eMac, and steady progress on OS X to make it business friendly and secure, but to this day (sadly), the vast majority of developers still earn more of their profits from the Wintel platform. That is predominantly Steve’s fault, not Sculley’s. One doesn’t blame the pilot who couldn’t pull the plane out of the dive and was scapegoated for all the sins of the company, the critic needs tot assign primary responsibility to the one who screwed up in the first place.

        One of my biggest complaints about Cook is that he is not furthering efforts to ingratiate more developers to join the Mac platform. Autodesk was a big win, but Apple publicly alienated others, including Adobe — all while failing to deliver equivalent software. Point of note: the Quicken CEO sits on the Apple board, but all of his software clearly favors PC development, with Mac software clearly lagging at least a full generation behind. Apple needs to stop patting itself on the back for its token bells and whistles and bloat added to OS X over the years and start working with the rest of the planet to deliver some real meat and potatoes. iWork is a joke, FCP lost its edge, FM was never developed into a serious challenger, and there is a dearth of competitive scientific, database, and business software. That’s why over 80% of Macs sold today also run a Windows emulator or Boot Camp. Sure, Apple makes as much money as the box makers. Apple + Apple developers makes nowhere near as much as the average PC Maker + Wintel developers. That needs to change.

        …. and yes, the same misfortune could befall iOS if Apple continues to concentrate only on current hardware profit share instead of also defending total market share. Developers go where the market share is, which is why Android has practically caught up with iOS. in number of developers and app titles.

  4. The article mentions how the journalist who wrote the letter to Nokia complained that he couldn’t figure out his phone without the manual, whereas no manual was needed to figure out his iPod touch. One thing I love about Apple is how they make it a point never to ship a manual with any of their products. This puts pressure on their designers and engineers to make Apple devices as intuitively simple as possible.

    Face it, if the user has to read a manual to figure out your product, you’ve failed. Apple knows this, so they don’t include a manual in the box. The designers know this, so they make damn sure they get it right.

    ——RM

    1. Apple includes a quick-start guide with every hero product they ship. It’s an abbreviated manual that highlights how to get set-up and running.

      Apple has been bundling these guides since the first Mac. You have ZERO idea what you are talking about.

      1. If you don’t know the difference between a quick-start guide, which is a small pamphlet covering the utter basics, and a full manual, which is a small book that covers everything, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        “Quick start guide” =/= “manual”. They’re two very different things.

        (You can download a manual online from Apple’s support site and see it’s different, if you don’t believe me.)

        ——RM

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