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RIP Nokia & Symbian

Updated on September 7, 2013
jonathanago profile image

Author, Entrepreneur, & Hacker. I've spent the last 35 years living life and analyzing the things that are around me. Founder of Abacab Ltt

Nokia Communicator
Nokia Communicator | Source
Nokia Xpress
Nokia Xpress | Source
Nokia N95
Nokia N95 | Source
Nokia N8
Nokia N8 | Source
Nokia Lumia
Nokia Lumia | Source
Nokia Lumia
Nokia Lumia | Source
Nokia Lumia
Nokia Lumia | Source

Nokia makes the most beautiful phones outside of Apple. Their designs have always been ahead of the curve and the technology always put Apple on its toes. So how did one of the most innovative phone companies lose its grip in a market they once controlled? Poor management is always the answer. One can not look at Nokia without looking at Symbian OS. For many years, Symbian Mobile OS was the pioneer of mobile operating systems. It was founded by Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, and Psion for the sole purpose to "prevent" Microsoft gaining a monopoly in the mobile market and become a bully like they did with personal computing. That was the sole mission of Symbian, aside from being a premium mobile operating system.


Let's emphasize Nokia's role with Symbian. Through their partnership, many phones were made that were ahead of its time. Prime example, Nokia N95 in 2006, the phone had a front camera, back camera w/ 5 megapixels, A/V cables so the contents on the phone can be seen on any television, wi-fi, SIP module (VoIP connection), and a GUI that iOS copied, quite literally. It wasn't a touchscreen, but it was a glimpse of what was to come in the mobile market. The phone's popularity among professionals remained until 2010-2011. Now imagine a Symbian OS fully integrated with Nokia's technological innovation would have kept Nokia as a major player of the smartphone market.


Symbian's partners slowly divested from their Symbian venture, until Nokia was the sole owner. Nokia's full take over of Symbian came during the time when the first Iphone's release and it was just gaining market share and there was still time to stay a formidable force. Nokia already controlled 80% of the smartphone market, the smartphone market was still in its infancy. Regardless of increased competitors and a shift of regular mobile users becoming smartphone users, Nokia could have remained as a major player of the mobile market. Nokia could have emphasized partnerships with web companies to create the ultimate Symbian/Nokia experience. Nokia already made beautiful top of the line phones, they just needed to emphasize on software and make Symbian web friendly. Partnerships with companies likes Yahoo and other Google competitors would have helped Nokia succeed in this goal.


Instead, Nokia spent $1 billion dollars to turn Symbian into a non-profit and try to target Android's threat, which was a foolish move. They gave Accenture management control of the maintenance of Symbian. Many of the founding partners of Symbian abandoned their prodigy for Android. This left Nokia the only company supporting Symbian for the time being.


Nokia fell into a financial crisis due to profit losses. This resulted to Microsoft latching into Nokia with their cash rich reserves and the inevitable happened. All Nokia phones became Windows phones. This move did not really help Nokia, as many of the markets were not buying into Microsoft, due to their limited apps and features. Nokia's partnership with Microsoft was the equivalent of making a Maserati and giving it a Toyota engine. Microsoft's strive for relevance through cash incentives failed, once again. Ultimately, Microsoft grew impatient with Nokia's lack of reach and decided to buy Nokia's phone business. It is too late to think about what if they should have made that right or left turn. Nokia screwed up their opportunity to remain relevant in the smartphone market.

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