PASSING OF A GIANT
Nokia’s decision to sell their Devices and Services unit to Microsoft, for a cool US$7.2 billion, is a whopper. First and foremost, it puts Microsoft squarely in the primary driver position behind the vehicle that is Windows Phone, giving them control of Nokia’s smartphone manufacturing, as well as 32,000 employees who’ll be swapping employers, one of which being a certain Stephen Elop, former Microsoft employee turned Nokia CEO, and soon-to-be Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Devices and Services Division.
Second, this truly marks the passing of one of the mobile industry’s former giants, as Nokia will now put their focus behind Nokia Solutions and Networks, as well as the HERE mapping and location services business.
Of all the technology companies I’ve been fortunate to cover in the past decade, none stands out as much as Nokia. Devices like the N82 really kickstarted the smartphone revolution for me, being one of the first few devices out there to combine internet connectivity and apps in a device not much larger than a candy bar. The original N-Gage was memorable simply because of its form factor and Nokia’s abortive attempts to succeed in portable gaming. The N91 and its built-in hard Harman Kardon amplifier brought music and smartphones to another level, while the E71 (and eventually the E72) made smartphones cool in the workplace (sorry, Blackberry). Let’s not forget arguably the most famous Nokia phone of all, the 8110 “banana phone” prominently featured in the sci-fi action film, The Matrix. Earlier years also saw Nokia experimenting with abandon; their Fashion Phone lineup featuring devices like the 7280 “lipstick “phone and the 7610 baffled many with their unorthodox approach to keypad design. Today, Nokia is but a shell of its former self, having failed horribly at keeping up with Apple, Google and Samsung over the years, despite attempts like the Lumia lineup that were ultimately too little, too late. I’ll miss Nokia, I admit, but that’s probably just nostalgia speaking out loud.