Nokia today is one of the most famous mobile phone brands in the world. The venerable Finnish company takes its name from the town where it was first established. The first products by Nokia were not remotely related to telecommunications, nor even technology. The first Nokia products were rubber-based.
Initially starting off with car phone systems in 1966 in conjunction with Salora Oy, the technology which laid the foundation for the first mobile phone network was set up in 1981. Fast forward a few years later, and Nokia was also one of the pioneers of the GSM technology. Used even today, the technology was adopted by the European markets as a standard.
When scrutinizing the changes that have in Nokia’s product line over the years, the reduction in size comes across as the most obvious change of all. However, there are a number of smaller, less evident ones that characterize the phones too.
Mobile phones started out as an expensive plaything for an upwardly mobile executive suit or a social butterfly. They were simply too dear for the greater public to afford them. Call costs too were prohibitively expensive, rendering the market exclusive.
Today all that has changed dramatically, Nokia has the widest array of mobile phones conceivable. They range from the simpler budget handsets, intended for the most basic of phone functions, to the complex business phones, fitted with the latest in mobile phone technology. The company has effectively cornered all areas of the mobile phone consumer market, by designing phones that suit every imaginable occasion.
Nokia mobiles are synonymous with comforting solidity and quality of brand. The phones are sturdily manufactured, sustaining damage and considerable ill use where other phones would have folded up in silent protest. For instance, the Symbian mobile operating system has evolved so slowly over the years that most older users will find the interface easier to manipulate. There is however a flip side to the coin, where the snail pace of evolution has led Nokia products to be considered dated. In fact, there were rumours that Nokia had the touch screen technology before Apple released the iPhone; if this were true, it strongly suggests that the company seems averse to change – a stance that a company can rarely afford to take, especially one that deals in technology.
Compared to the aura of dignity that seems envelop Nokia, most other mobile phone manufacturers resemble upstarts. The company has managed to keep its head clear above the muddy waters, where other companies have lashed out at each other, attempting to drum up better product sales. Only twice was the good Nokia name sullied by ugly controversy: once in Iran, when the company was accused of assisting the Iranian government in intercepting data communications amongst the people; and secondly, in Finland where the company allegedly supported a similar legislation for eavesdropping. The charges were vehemently denied at the time, and the status quo has since returned.
Regardless of incidents like the ones mentioned above, Nokia preserves a serene reputation amongst their loyal user base. It is a common refrain amongst Nokia users that once they have become accustomed to operating a Nokia mobile phone, another one will just not be as good. This curious case of unswerving brand loyalty can be directly attributed to the consistency of their mobile operating system, design and interface, and Symbian.
Symbian has enjoyed a close relationship with Nokia; in fact, until the development of Maemo, Symbian enjoyed sole regency on Nokia mobile phones. This is a considerable achievement, considering the sheer number of Nokia mobile phones. For the past few years, Nokia was steadily buying portions of Symbian, and finally now owns it entirely. There was a reported plan to make the operating system completely open source as well. However, with the development of Linux-based, completely open Maemo, this avenue seems less and less likely.
In the future, one hopes to see more innovation in Nokia phones. That is not to say that the company should completely eschew the comforting consistency so much a part of its brand identity, but more along the lines of offering more in terms of development. It would be a definite shame if the company lost out on valuable market share and loyal customers, just because there were other phones with more to offer. Certainly, Nokia phones will always have a market, but if they decide to alter their approach ever so slightly – it may just make a huge difference.