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How Nokia Died So Quickly After Microsoft’s Acquisition -BB

Nokia died not long after its acquisition by Microsoft, although the brand and mobile platform was already heading that way. It’s not simply the case that Microsoft purchased Nokia and then drove it off a cliff, but more so that the decisions made kept it going in the direction it was already heading in. If you ask anyone of a certain age, they will remember Nokia fondly – just like if you ask anyone who remembers the BlackBerry of old. Prior to the success of BlackBerry, phones made by the Finnish brand were the default option for many buyers. Everyone had a Nokia phone and back then it would have been impossible to imagine a world without Nokia in it.

By the start of the 2010s, the smart phone market had begun to evolve and the changes were evident. Apple and its iPhone line were grabbing lots of attention while Google and its Android platform continued to build out third-party support. With Nokia not running on either Apple’s nor Google’s mobile platforms but relying on Symbian OS, it had started to become a third wheel. To be clear, up until mid-way through 2012, Symbian OS remained a leading mobile OS commanding over 30 percent of the market each month. However, Android and iOS were continually growing due to the increased developer support. Once the scales tipped in Apple and Google’s favor, Symbian OS was finished. As is often the tipping point case, it all happened rather quickly from there. According to data from Statista, Symbian OS started 2012 with almost 32 percent market share, but ended the same year with barely over 10 percent.

With Apple and Google continually and heavily investing in their app ecosystems, and considering that’s where the market continued to head over the next decade, any device that was not linked to either app store found itself obsolete. In fact, Nokia was not unaware of this fact as not long before the Microsoft acquisition, Nokia had been readying Android-powered phones. Albeit, they were phones running on AOSP and not Google’s Android as a means to ensure Nokia offered something different.

If timing is everything, then Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is the epitome of the phrase. Microsoft didn’t purchase Nokia until 2013. By then the smart phone landscape had changed. Microsoft was also struggling to keep up in the mobile phone space and in some ways the two viewed each other as their savior. The problem was each company was trying to jump from one sinking ship to another. Microsoft saw Nokia’s hardware and R&D departments as a quick fix to its problems, while Nokia hoped Windows Phone would be able to modernize its devices at the software level. Microsoft purchasing Nokia was a natural fit, especially as the two announced their first strategic partnership back in 2011.

Arguably, there was no other future for Nokia other than a Microsoft acquisition considering Stephen Elop was in charge of Nokia at the time. Elop, previously of Microsoft, supervised much of the bad Nokia years and was integral in the acquisition process which also saw Elop return to Microsoft. While many often take a more conspiratorial perspective of history by viewing Elop as the sole reason behind Nokia’s demise, he was well aware that the market had changed and that Symbian OS was no longer competitive. Elop and the company hedged their bets on Windows Phone. Looking at how the smart phone market is now completely an Apple-Android duopoly is only further evidence that there was no room for a third platform, be it Symbian OS, Windows Phone, or anything else.

Of course, you can’t be reborn without dying first – and that’s exactly what Nokia phones have done. With the help of HMD Global and Android, Nokia is back again as Nokia Mobile. The future now looks brighter than it has for the under dog brand in a very long time. Although it is unlikely to ever shine quite as bright as it did during the Nokia heyday.

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