Nokia retains a lead in mobile network infrastructure but its profile in the global handset sector it once dominated has almost disappeared. In an industry that has seen more than its fair share of fortunes made and lost, few business arcs were as dramatic as that experienced by Nokia. The massive explosion of wireless communications during the 1990s thrust an obscure company from rural Finland into the global spotlight. Over the following 15 years, Nokia gradually established itself as the clear leader in the sector, and by 2008 it accounted for four out of every ten mobile phones sold worldwide. After that, though, performance slumped, mainly as a result of the startling growth of smartphones led first by Apple's iPhone and then the explosion of devices powered by Google's Android operating system. The speed of that change caught Nokia completely off-guard. As the company's dominance crumbled, it attempted to bolster its position through its new global alliance with Microsoft. It was almost inevitable that the larger US company would eventually take full control, and in 2013 Microsoft agreed to buy out Nokia's mobile phone division for €5.4bn. The Nokia brand was gradually phased out on Microsoft's handsets and finally abandoned altogether, but Microsoft too was unable to crack the market. Independent Finnish company HMD Global acquired the handset license and relaunched the brand in 2017. However, smartphone sales remain negligible compared to the global leaders - fewer than 14.5m units sold in 2019 or less than 1% share. However HMD is #2 in the much smaller and less valuable "featurephone" sector, with 53m Nokia-branded units sold or 15% share. (Hong Kong's iTel is #1 with 17%). HMD posted revenues of €1.7bn and a loss of €295m. Meanwhile, the slimmed-down Nokia Corp soldiers on as a leader in mobile network infrastructure and software development. It consolidated its lead with the acquisition of rival Alcatel-Lucent at the beginning of 2016. It also attempted to re-establish a presence in devices, first with a venture into VR (the high-end Ozo camera, unsuccessful and later discontinued) and later consumer healthcare following the purchase of Withings, a French manufacturer of weight scales, blood pressure monitors and activity trackers. This was not much more successful and Withings was sold back to its former owner in 2018. Pekka Lundmark is group CEO of Nokia. Revenues for 2019 were €23.3bn, down from a high of €51bn a decade earlier. Net profit was just €18m. Network infrastructure hardware and software account for essentially all of revenues.
Capsule checked 22nd September 2020
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Historical profile information for Nokia
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week "Ordinary Life". Nokia brand licensee HMD Global is still plugging away at the global handset market. You have to admire their perseverance. This latest campaign comes from admired Swedish creative hothouse Forsman & Bodenfors, now a sister to CP&B and 72andSunny within MDC Partners. It's a cute - and distinctively Scandinavian - concept, whose appeal will probably be greatest among the Nordic nations. They're so down-to-earth they probably won't mind picturing themselves as ordinary people with ordinary lives. Though, frankly, ice bathing is in itself a pretty extraordinary thing to do... even for ordinary people.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: Ads of the Week: "Be The Gift". For most people, Christmas and New Year is a time for celebration, but for some it can be the loneliest week of the year. Mother does a fine job of trying to rebuild the Nokia handset brand - now managed by an independent Finnish company under license - with a touching film about a mother (hey, coincidence!) and her absent son, connected only by their mobiles. It's a familiar theme for any Christmas, but seems to be even more prevalent in 2017.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Mar 2017: Welcome to the return of the living dead! One of the most widely publicised takeaways from Mobile World Congress this week has been the relaunch of the Nokia mobile brand. This is not from Nokia itself, which now only makes network infrastructure; nor from Microsoft, which bought the Nokia handset business for billions and then effectively shuttered it last year at a cost of millions more. The maker this time is independent company HMD Global, which acquired the Nokia brand license and is now re-entering the market with a new line of smartphones. You'd hardly know about those, though, because the device that got all the media coverage is a revamp of the iconic Nokia 3310 "chocolate bar" handset, probably the first mobile phone owned by anyone over the age of 40. Such is the power of short-term nostalgia that the biggest hit of Nokia's relaunch is not those new smart devices but an updated dumbphone, that will be purchased "ironically" by a few retro hipsters and then dumped a month or two later. It doesn't even have 3G. But it does have that old chestnut, the "Snake" game, and a battery charge that lasts a month. Yeah, because it's only 2G. So no wi-fi either. We give new Nokia a year at best before it crashes and burns like its predecessor. And there's a new Blackberry device too. Like corporate Nokia, corporate Blackberry quit the device market after losing almost all its one-time Crackberry addicts. However that brand too was licensed by Chinese manufacturer TCL, which has unveiled its first device under the once-celebrated name, the Blackberry KeyOne. Good luck with that.
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th May 2016: The Nokia mobile phone brand is destined to live on. Microsoft acquired the struggling Finnish mobile phone business two years ago, but has failed since then to weaken the iron grip on the market of Samsung and Apple. Though it will continue to market smartphones under the Lumia name, Microsoft is offloading its non-smart "feature phone" operations, which still carry the Nokia name, to a joint venture between FIH Mobile - a unit of Taiwan tech giant Foxconn - and a newly formed Finnish company HMD Global, run by former Nokia executive Jean-Francois Baril. The price tag was $350m. At the same time, Nokia Corp, now focused on network equipment, agreed to transfer the license for its name to be used on those devices. Nokia is still the leading brand in the shrinking but still sizeable global feature phone market. In 1Q, Microsoft sold 15.7m Nokia-branded non-smartphone devices, equivalent to around 13% global share.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th May 2016: Nokia is making a move back into consumer devices with a deal to acquire French company Withings for €170m. The company makes healthcare tracking products such as weighing scales and blood pressure monitors, but has also moved more recently into fitness bands. Nokia says it has no plans to re-enter the telecoms sector but aims to become the global leader in digital healthcare.
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