The Past is the Future? Nokia Way


Around 20 years ago there were two old and great finnish companies that were  in a miserable state. The first one of them, Kone, had great difficulties in mastering their portfolio of products. The Chief and the owner of Kone, Pekka Herlin was about to sell the whole company to a German rival and the deal was about to be done. In the last evening Herlin decided, however, to keep the company and not only that: he decided to resort to making elevators only.

Meanwhile, Nokia had become a warehouse of everything and nothing really worked well, if at all. CEO Kari Kairamo had committed suicide couple of years earlier. An idea was developed to sell Nokia to Swedish rival, Ericsson. Discussions were held, but at the last moment the deal was cancelled.

Today Kone has become a global elevator giant and is the best the Finnish industrial company in terms of performance. The rise to the top 3 of global players has been a magnificent success story, only to be outperformed by Nokia's success story a decade earlier.  Nokia, meanwhile, reached quite to the top of the global companies (if not by turnover, at least with its brandvalue) in the early 2000, only to start a long slide down to where it is today. Last year was probably the worst, reaching the bottom businesswise but also brandwise. No one believed in the company anymore, at least in the outside.

Which is exactly what makes this recent turnaround in the market attractiveness so fascinating. All of a sudden we recognize: best smartphone on the market, new middle-prized smarties to seize the market, new deals with chinese operators, great deals with US operators, great new generation of Asha-phones for developing markets, close connection to first really smart windows 8 operating system, coming tablet etc etc.

So suddenly we see it coming back, again. How interesting! I strongly believe that this whole thing is ultimately an expression of  the spirit that has been rediscovered  within the company. The same spirit that helped the company to reinvent itself in the early 1990's. And if that spirit is taken care of, nothing will stop the company to become once again the leader of the industry.

Remember, Nokia's real leverage has always been highly tuned into growing markets. Ask any Indian and he will probably tell you that Nokia means quality (with cheap price). Nokia's business has been the bottom of the pyramid business: it has helped people with a fraction of money we have, to become more capable of living a decent life.

I expect that in the future we shall see Nokia continuing that task while providing lots of moments of fun and content with their new smartphones. They seems to hold the same magic that iphone once had: it feels great to touch machine and see how easily it is bringing world to our hand.

I guess nothing will stop Nokia from becoming great again.

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