The Journey of Nokia from Paper Pulp to Mobile Phones

First Published by BP Staff on 4 Sep, 2013 at 07:51 PM IST under Business

Did you know that Finnish Mobile Phone Giant Nokia began as a Paper Pulp Processing Company  in 1865? In last 150 years it has been into variety of Business including manufacture of Tyre,  Plastics, Aluminium, Chemicals, Rubbers,Cables, Footwears, Robots, Military equipments, Capacitors, Television and several other consumer Durables apart from Mobile Phone, which established Nokia as a worldwide brand.

It was established by Finnish mining engineer Fredrik Idestam as a wood pulp mill next to the Tammerkoski Rapids in the southwest of Finland.

Nokia Logo with two hands

Nokia has connected people in over 10 Industry Segments

A few years later, he opened a second mill, this one located on the banks of the Nokianvirta River — a river, apparently, named for an animal: a small mammal related to the weasel and the wolverine.

It  soon acquired a rubber factory, and a telephone-and-telegraph-cable manufacturer. It would dabble in electronics and clothing and forestry and robotics.

But in 1898, Eduard Polón founded Finnish Rubber Works, which later becomes Nokia’s rubber business, making everything from galoshes to tyres. Nokia rubber boots become a bona fide design classic, still on sale to this day – though it no longer makes them.

Electronics go boom

In 1912, Arvid Wickström sets up Finnish Cable Works, the foundation of Nokia’s cable and electronics business.

By the 1960s, Finnish Cable Works – already working closely with Nokia Ab and Finnish Rubber Works – starts branching out into electronics. In 1962, it made its first electronic device in-house: a pulse analyser for use in nuclear power plants.

In 1963, it started developing radio telephones for the army and emergency services – Nokia’s first foray into telecommunications. In time, the company’s MikroMikko becomes the best known computer brand in Finland. And by 1987, Nokia is the third largest TV manufacturer in Europe.

Three become one

Having been jointly owned since 1922, Nokia Ab, Finnish Cable Works and Finnish Rubber Works officially merge in 1967. The new Nokia Corporation had five businesses: rubber, cable, forestry, electronics and power generation. But as the 1980s come into view, it’s was entirely new industry that made Nokia a household name around the world.

The mobile era begins

Nokia sets the ball rolling in 1979, creating radio telephone company Mobira Oy as a joint venture with leading Finnish TV maker Salora. 1981 then sees the launch of the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) service, the world’s first international cellular network and the first to allow international roaming.

The NMT standard catches on fast and the mobile phone industry begins to expand rapidly. In 1982, Nokia introduces the first car phone – the Mobira Senator – to the network. That same year, the Nokia DX200, the company’s first digital telephone switch, goes into operation.

Good enough for Gorbachev

In 1984, Nokia launches the Mobira Talkman portable car phone. Resembling a military field telephone, it’s a fairly cumbersome piece of kit – but it’s a start.

Then in 1987, Nokia introduces the Mobira Cityman, the first handheld mobile phone for NMT networks. Despite weighing in at 800 grams and a price tag of 24,000 Finnish Marks (around EUR 4,560), it goes on to become a classic. The Cityman even earns a nickname, the “Gorba”, after Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is pictured using one to make a call from Helsinki to his communications minister in Moscow.

In 1987, GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) is adopted as the European standard for digital mobile technology. With its high-quality voice calls, international roaming and support for text messages, GSM ignites a global mobile revolution.

 

A new direction

On July 1, 1991, Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri makes the world’s first GSM call, using Nokia equipment. And in 1992, Nokia launches its first digital handheld GSM phone, the Nokia 1011.

That same year, new Nokia President and CEO Jorma Ollila makes a crucial strategic decision: to focus exclusively on manufacturing mobile phones and telecommunications systems. Nokia’s rubber, cable and consumer electronics divisions are gradually sold off. In 1992 itself, its name was changed to Nokia Telecommunications.

Name that tune

In 1994, Nokia launches the 2100 series, the first phones to feature the Nokia Tune ringtone. Based on Gran Vals, a classical guitar piece composed by Francisco Tarrega in the 19th century, it is probably one of the most frequently played pieces of music in the world. The Nokia 2100 series goes on to sell 20 million phones worldwide. Nokia’s target had been 400,000.

1994 also sees the world’s first satellite call, made using a Nokia GSM handset.

Snake bites

In 1997, everybody knows their Snake high score. An instant classic, the addictive game is launched on the Nokia 6110 and by 2010 its successors are available on an estimated 350 million mobile phones.

On top of the world

By 1998, Nokia becomes  the world leader in mobile phones.  Between 1996 and 2001, Nokia’s turnover increases almost fivefold from EUR 6.5 billion to EUR 31 billion.

Multi-tasking mobiles

In 1999, Nokia launches the Nokia 7110, a phone capable of rudimentary web-based functions, including email. Then in November 2001 Nokia launches its first phone with a built-in camera, the Nokia 7650, and in September 2002 its first video capture phone, the Nokia 3650.

However, it’s when Nokia launches its first 3G phone (third generation), the Nokia 6650, in 2002 that things really take off. With 3G technology, phones can now be used to browse the web, download music, watch TV on the move, and more.

One billion and counting

In 2005, Nokia sold its billionth phone – a Nokia 1100 – in Nigeria, and global mobile phone subscriptions pass 2 billion. Two years later, Nokia was recognised as the 5th most valued brand in the world.

Last Updated on September 4, 2013 at 8:04 PM IST


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