Nokia has arguably been in the communications technology business for a century and a half. “Arguably” because, for that to be true, one needs to consider the company’s original product, paper pulp, a communications technology. Also, one has to know that Nokia Corp. is still in business.
To those who think nostalgically of mobile phones when they hear Nokia, that may not be obvious. For 14 years the tech giant reigned as the world’s biggest handset maker and, while it was at it, a primary engine of Finland’s economy. The company’s fall, however, was swift. In 2012 it lost $4 billion. In 2013 it agreed to sell off its phone business, which employed 32,000, to Microsoft Corp. “It’s evident Nokia doesn’t have the resources to fund the required acceleration across mobile phones and smart devices,” said the company’s chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, in announcing the sale.
But while Nokia has gotten smaller, it remains a big company, with net sales of $26.1 billion last year. It’s a very different company, though, than it was in the heyday of its simple, durable, adorably chunky phones. By and large, it no longer makes things consumers can buy. Today, its familiar all-caps logo is mostly found on network processors, routers, base station radio access units, and other components of the largely invisible infrastructure that undergirds the mobile internet.
Image courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek.