Nokia: The Story of the Once-Legendary Phone Maker


Posts: 1,317   +1,278
It does make you wonder if Nokia had gone down the Android route instead of partnering with Microsoft whether their phones would have stayed popular. I feel like Samsung replaced Nokia in most Nokia owners eyes. Also the iPhone changed the landscape completely.

Personally my favourite phones from that era were Sony Ericson's, they had decent camera's, the OS was easy to navigate and they were great for music apart from the stupid connector, but other than that Sony Ericson were my preferred choice until I switched to HTC in 2011.


Posts: 2,265   +4,416
Very nostalgic writing for me: I remember growing up at a time when in my early teens I still carried a phone calling card for public phones and a clock that had phone contacts on it and by the time I was just out of my teenage years and earning my first paychecks I bought a Nokia 3650 and installed an NES emulator on it: I remember my friends' jaws collectively dropping: we grew up not having enough money to own a home console to play NES games and we used to pay neighbors that would just put an NES on their garage and rent it out to kids, to 15 years later I was playing t he same exact games in my phone.

The symbian os was truly the host for numerous highly desirable phones and before the original iphone landed nobody cared about this new Android OS thing because absolutely everyone was coveting owning a Nokia N97. Even *after* the iphone was out the thing to nerd about was the Nokia N900 instead since it was going to be the first phone that was actually indistinguishable from a Linux computer running full fledged Linux on it. By the time it came out however the impulse just wasn't there anymore and Android was starting to look already like a much more cool and capable version of the iphone, just not anywhere nearly as popular mind you but that's where all the tech heads were heading towards when they were looking to ditch their aging Nokia Symbian phones.

But for a good 10 years Nokia was *the* name in town if you wanted such a thing as a smartphone and it was so new than yes, you did want such a thing if you can at all pinch your pennies together to get even the lower end ones.


Posts: 1,307   +351
Sometimes I wonder what could possibly happen to Nokia if they didn't put all their eggs in one basket (windows phone). beginning of 2010, Sony Ericsson had many offerings, X10 with Android, X2 with Windows Mobile, Vivaz with Symbian and lots of others without any OS. LG, HTC and Samsung each had Android and Windows Mobile offerings for their smartphone lineup.

Nokia meanwhile, was still working on the Symbian (which at the time wasn't designed for touchscreen) and wasted their resources on development MeeGo OS. not surprising considering Nokia was huge back then and their ego probably wouldn't allow them to work with other OS.

Elop joined in late 2010 and considering he came from Microsoft you can already guess that he's going to ditch both Symbian and MeeGo, put all his basket on Microsoft Windows Phone and hope for the best. Unfortunately Microsoft fails to deliver WP and Nokia's death was imminent.

Had Nokia released just one phone with Android from the very beginning, their fate would take another turn. Just look at blackberry. they were very late to the Android club but somehow they survived for more than two years from that.

Yes I know HTC, LG and Sony were all crushed by Samsung today. but you can't say they did not put up a good fight all these years (Android smartphones). Nokia meanwhile did not even get the chance to join the fight thanks to Elop.

RIP Nokia.
:-( Carried a Nokia 2690 up until 2015 (after many others in the past), finally got on the smartphone bandwagon and got the Lumia 630, ****ing loved Lumia's experience with WP8.1 (later updated to W10M), feels bad that MS decided to kill it...

Great article.
Wow what an article, restored my romance with Nokia, was fortune it to have had nearly all those phones as my friend was a cell phone dealer, wonderful read, I too had to register just to say thanks :)

Feng Lengshun

Posts: 56   +24
That was a long read, but a really good one.
Instead, Nokia could have built a compatibility layer to let Android apps run on MeeGo handsets, which could have solved the problem of app availability.
This was exactly my thought when I read about them axing the Linux-based OSSO. If nothing else, they could have "borrowed" Android's apps ecosystem or at least made the process of porting so much easier.

Both Apple and the Linux for phone devs have come to understood this - the former with its Rosettas for their transition years, and the latter as they develop a way to get Android apps running on Linux for phones.

The way I saw Nokia is similar as many Japanese companies. They put so much passion that they would die on a hill for specific ideas, didn't pay enough attention to outside developments, was too slow to make decisions, and on top of that they made the wrong decisions when they finally made their move.

The biggest most notable similarity was that both seems to have this artisan-like obsession on hardware and couldn't adapt to the fact that software is the new frontiers now.

Nokia just didn't take their software seriously by the end of it- most likely because many of their previous successes was triumphs of hardware, with the software being incidental despite how they're the more universal connection many Nokians have (there's going to be a different Nokia phone everyone is nostalgic for, but most of them will remember the Snake game, polyphonic ringtone creation, and the Symbian OS as a whole).


Posts: 200   +153
Wow, what a piece! Very well written.

I'm disappointed that you didn't mention the N900. While not that important to the general public, among developers it made some noise and certainly kept Maemo alive in the company.

The 808 PureView also performed better than the 920 in many ways because it had a DSP for the camera, so for processing images it could do it better than the 920 which relied on its main SoC.

Elop was a mistake and utterly unfit for the job. His past record wasn't good either. He'll go down as a business case study of what not to do. Of course, the board of Nokia also bear quite a lot of blame too.

Having seen what Qt has become and what was happening with it, I really do think that if Nokia had got it together and aligned their teams that they could have supported Symbian, Maemo, and perhaps even the other OS that was knocking around. Maemo probably would have won out as as great as Symbian was, getting it to work with mutiple cores was not going well.

Ah well, coulda woulda shoulda.
Last edited:


Posts: 200   +153
This was exactly my thought when I read about them axing the Linux-based OSSO. If nothing else, they could have "borrowed" Android's apps ecosystem or at least made the process of porting so much easier.

Oddly enough, I ended up playing Fruit Ninja on my N900 using AlienDalvik that was created by the community. And it only crashed occasionally. As Maemo was pretty much Debian, there weren't too many barriers.
I'm convinced Nokia/HMD still has a decent chance to win back some good market share. Now that it's been made clear that Samsung and Apple are engaging in built-in obsolescence practices Nokia could capitalize on this and make more phones that are both more durable and have a more stabilized software life span. All they really need at this point is a proper flagship device that can compete with a top end iPhone/Galaxy but the long play strategy to capture the low to mid market is very wise. It maybe a question of marketing at this point.


Posts: 252   +5
Great article!

Nokia can still make a comeback in the consumer market. There is growing demand to "disconnect" with minimalist phones or "back to basics" principle, and there is not much option for consumers here. Nokia can easily capture this market with their own brand of software and hardware.


Posts: 182   +132
This write up is phenomenal. It kept me hooked. Maybe it was the nostalgia. Nokia phones and symbian are still on my mind. I always buy an Android smartphone for general use (Whatsapp, twitter etc), but I've got to have a smaller pocketable button phone, preferably, a nokia phone. I don't mind which, as long as it's a small pocketable nokia phone with symbian os.

Old Molases

Posts: 211   +46
I wish they could evolve with the needs of the market, and we would've been using them today as well. I wish Nokia's legacy somehow revives.


Posts: 5,120   +6,748
:-( Carried a Nokia 2690 up until 2015 (after many others in the past), finally got on the smartphone bandwagon and got the Lumia 630, ****ing loved Lumia's experience with WP8.1 (later updated to W10M), feels bad that MS decided to kill it...

Great article.
I loved windows phone and, frankly, I wish they made a real smartphone OS earlier because it was better than Android and iOS in many respects.


Posts: 4,122   +4,819
Nokia had a lot of weird quirky looking phones yet everyone loved them. Now, most phones are black slabs and quite boring looking but when something like Z-Fold comes out, most people, including me, say it's a useless gimmick.

When it comes to Windows phones, I didn't have one but each one I played with has left a good impression on me. It's sad that it's gone.

Feng Lengshun

Posts: 56   +24
As someone working in the teleco industry, we still have a lot of contacts with Nokia as a major player in the industry. It's actually surprising seeing how big they and Ericsson are outside of the consumer space.

Also, because I'm a Linux user who uses KDE, I have Qt and Trolltech as a major component of the apps I use. WPS Office is one example for something that still uses Trolltech Qt, and some multiplatform stuff like TeamViewer also uses Qt.

For a while, I was interested in getting a Nokia Android phone, because I hear it's very vanilla and has guaranteed update, but the hardware didn't seem promising from both spec, polish, and longevity aspects. In the end I've settled with Samsung now -- it's not problem-free, but after using it for three years I can trust Samsung to be good enough compared to most other Android brands.

Kinda a shame because I used Nokia for all of my life up until Android becomes a thing, after which I never used a Nokia phone. I don't remember what I used before I was 10, but I remember having both Ngage and Ngage QD, and using the E90 Communicator that my dad found to be a pain to use. I really don't miss the charger, MMC, and earphone standards of the past though -- that was a pain.

Nokia's impact is still pretty big, but it's definitely a lot less big than it used to be now. I think if it wasn't for the horrible decisions during their transition to smartphone age, we'd be having Nokia be a head-to-head Huawei competitor right now.


Posts: 459   +142
Yep, Nokia was THE phone and THE name in digital products for a long time. But it did not keep up with the competition and then to go in with Windows, yuck. That sealed the coffin.


Posts: 55   +42
This article should be file to web archive

The best thing Nokia created is the ringtone and offline Satellite map


Posts: 200   +153
I loved windows phone and, frankly, I wish they made a real smartphone OS earlier because it was better than Android and iOS in many respects.
The thing is, by Trojan Horsing Nokia, Microsoft killed off the only other company ready, willing, and capable of building supporting a mobile OS.

Nokia had both Maemo/Meego and Symbian. By the time Elop took over, Symbian was looking much better with Belle FP2, though still had issues with multicore SoCs. Meego was set to debut on the N9 (though had pedigree in Maemo). There was also another new OS floating around Nokia.

Three OSes may sound like a mess, but Nokia's purchase of Trolltech and their Qt made it really easy to create apps than would run on all of the OSes. Despite the winding down of Qt use at Nokia due to the switch to Windows Phone, there were still a good number of apps made using it that were very good.

The N9 launched with Meego in limited markets. It sold and reviewed (with users) well despite severely reduced publicity and advertising. The Lumia 800 that used the same body, would come months later because they had to rework it to run Windows Phone.

And guess which part still lives on despite all the upheaval, layoffs, employee pouching, etc.? Yes, that's right, Meego, in the form of Sailfish. It also lived on in Tizen to some degree.