with Onome Amawhe
In the world of mobile phones, Finnish company Nokia is king. The icy nation of Finland, near the top of the world wouldn’t seem to be the most likely place for electronic innovations, but a company with humble beginnings transformed itself into the largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world.

Nokia phone

The journey for Nokia to become the leader in this race is a seemingly unlikely one, but it became one of the world’s great success stories.

In 1865, a former mining engineer, Knut Fredrik Idestam, founded a pulp factory on the Tammerkoski rapids in the south of Finland. His intent was to introduce an advanced form of paper manufacturing from Germany to Finland. It was a success, so Idestam opened a second plant near the Nokianvirta River, which inspired the name of his new company: Nokia Wood Mills.

The name Nokia originated from the river which flowed through the town of the same name (Nokia). In Finland a community called Nokia still exists. Fredrik Idestam exported paper to Russia, United Kingdom and France. To expand his business he merged up with a Rubber goods manufacturing company which used to produce rubber items by the Nokia wood-pulp. The new merger started selling goods under the brand name on Nokia. In 1898, a new company, known as Finnish Rubber Works, opened in Finland to capitalize on the lucrative rubber industry, and used Nokia as one of the brands they sold. Fourteen years later, a third company, named Finnish Cable Works, opened.

Their work in young industry of telephone and telegraph wires actually established what would become the Nokia of today. Shortly after World War I ended, Finnish Rubber Works purchased both Nokia Wood Mills and Finnish Cable Works.

In 1966 Nokia entered the electronics field. Initially it employed only 460 people and it was the country’s fourth largest employer in electronics. 1966 was also the year that Nokia’s three industries – forest products, rubber, and cable – merged. Thus when Nokia entered the production of consumer electronics and later, mobile phone, it was already a familiar industrial name to Finns.

The companies continued in their respective industries separately, and it was not until incorporation in 1967 that all three companies came under the banner of the modern Nokia Corporation. During the 1970s and 1980s, Nokia pursued an active acquisition policy and sought a refashion for itself in several ways.

The company’s strategy sought to develop a corporate structure modeled after General Electric. One of these was the purchase of Luxor, television maker. This Company was a giant, and manufactured many different products, including: paper, boots, computers, tires, capacitors, and televisions. By this time, Finnish Cable Works had made its first steps into the electronics field; its first creation was a pulse analyzer for nuclear power plants.

However, with work on an early version of the car phone known as the ARP-phone, Nokia got its feet wet in the world of mobile telecommunications. Early efforts included development of the technology known as NMT, an early mobile telephony system that was the first to offer international roaming capabilities. The 1980s was the watershed decade for Nokia in telecommunications. With the development of the Nokia DX-200, the first fully operational digital telephone switch, Nokia made its mark.

The DX-200 offered an adaptable flexibility for use in other products, and was eventually incorporated into the mobile industry’s major technology standard, GSM (Global System for Mobile communications). In 1987, with the release of the Mobira Cityman, Nokia gave the world the first handheld NMT phone. From there, thanks to years of working with NMT, Nokia now focused upon the development of GSM; .in 1991, Nokia equipment was used to make the first GSM call. In 1992, telecommunications was declared to be the main focus of the corporation. The Nokia 1101 was the first GSM handset released, and established the pattern of Nokia branding most of their phones with a numeric identifier.

Things really picked up with the first satellite call being made on Nokia equipment, as well as the first Internet capable (WAP-enabled) phone. By 1998, they were the world leader, and by 2005, had sold their one-billionth phone. From its humble beginnings on the banks of a Finnish river, through the social, economic and political upheavals of the 20th century, Nokia emerged and maintained its position as a leader  not only the telecommunications field, but changing how people live their lives. Everyday, millions across the globe rely upon Nokia mobile phones in their personal and professional lives. Nokia continues to live up to its slogan: “Connecting People.” This slogan is now known all over the world. Since the 1990s the Nokia Company focuses especially the telecommunication industry.

Since 1995 Nokia has become a global leader in the production of cellular phone. Traditional images of Finnish industry are associated with timber forest products, furniture, ships and Valco. The importance of the forest industry was evident in the slogan Nokia used during 70s, “Finland lives from its forest”.

In 1992, Nokia decided on a new radical strategy. Nokia would become a mobile-phone pure play and sell off all other non-mobile phone assets, Nokia’s core business would henceforth be technology, not paper products, and not even computer or television technologies.

This decision came as Nokia launched its 2100 series GSM cell phone, which was an incredible success. Nokia manufactured and sold 20 million pieces of 2100 series GSM cell phone. Telecommunications has always been a strong industry in Scandinavia. Nokia’s particular success came as it acquired the technology for producing cellular phones from a joint venture that it initiated. International success finally came in 1984, when the Mobira Talkman, a portable cellular phone, came on the market and captured attention as a result of its innovativeness. The brand’s now famous “Nokia tune” was the first identifiable musical ring tone on a mobile phone.

It is said to be one of the world’s most recognized sound trademarks. During the past few years Nokia has been actively acquiring companies with new technologies and competencies, including also investments in minority positions. Since December 1997, Nokia has acquired 41 companies or businesses.
The value of each acquisition is listed in either US dollars or Euros. Currently every third mobile phone sold in the world is a Nokia.

The Nokia Company is today one of the world’s leading high tech companies. Its rapid growth in the 1990s coincided with a basal structural change of the Finnish economy and industry. In this restructuring process Nokia played an important role.

Despite the fact that Nokia is a leading multinational company, a major part of its business is located in Finland. Nokia plays a significantly role in the economic growth of Finland, which has been one of the fastest in whole Europe. Today, Nokia is the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer for protocols such as GSM, CDMA, and W-CDMA. Idestam’s invention won a bronze medal at the Paris World Exposition in 1867, and he is considered to be the father of Finland’s paper industry.
Fredrik Idestam died on April 8, 1916.

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