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Nokia celebrates its 155th birthday

Nokiamob exists because of the Nokia brand, and so it is really hard to imagine what we will be like had Nokia never existed. The legendary Nokia is turning 155 years old! The company may have gone through many phases all throughout its long and complicated history, but the business remains and it is here to stay.

Founded on May 12th, 1865, Nokia started as a pulp mill near the town of Tampere in Finland. As the business grew, founder Fredrik Idestam and his friend, Leo Mechelin, built a second mill near the town of Nokia with better hydropower resources. From it, the two friends created a shared company, calling it Nokia Ab, named after the site of the second mill.

When Idestam retired in 1896, Mechelin became the chairman and in 1902, expanded the business into electricity generation. In 1904 Suomen Gummitehdas (Finnish Rubber Works), founded by Eduard Polón established a factory for his rubber business near the Nokia town, and also call the business as such.

In 1922, Nokia Ab entered a partnership with Suomen Gummitehdas and Kaapelitehdas (a cable factory), which was all later handled under Polón’s leadership. The rubber business grow rapidly when it finally moved to Nokia region, and so the cable business followed. Around that time, the company also starts making respirators for both civilian and military use — 1930s to 1990s.

In 1967, the three companies merged together to create Nokia Corporation. The business were restructured to focus on four major businesses: forestry, cable, rubber and electronics. In 1970s, Nokia also entered the networking and radio industry. Around that time, the company also started making military equipment for Finland’s defense forces. Remember those Nokia-branded bullets?

Of course, being on a military equipment business, Nokia also had some fair share of conspiracy. Finland’s trade agreement with Soviet Union in 1960s allowed Nokia to expand in Soviet market. The thing is, some of the components Nokia supplied for Soviet are imported from the US. U.S. Deputy Minister of Defence, Richard Perle, later said that Nokia had a secret co-operation with The Pentagon that allowed the United States to keep track of technology developments in the Soviet Union through trading with Nokia.

In 1987, Nokia started to acquire many business under CEO Kari Kairamo. It bought television maker Salora in 1984, Swedish electronic and computer maker Luxor AB in 1985, then television maker Oceanic in 1987. This acquisitions propelled Nokia as the third-largest television manufacturer in Europe.

Nokia also acquired Mobira which launched the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) service in 1981 — the world’s first international cellular network and first to allow international roaming. The next year, 1982, Mobira launched the Mobira Senator, Nokia’s first mobile phone. And from there, the Nokia brand has became the most beloved mobile phone brand in the world.

Of course, we won’t go into details with their recent history with Microsoft and how they refused Google’s invitation to join Android. But the fact that the company is still alive even after a century, just keeps on innovating and restructuring itself, proves that no matter how many challenges it faces, the Nokia brand remains and it is here to stay.

But, for the youngest among us, a quick recap. In 2013 Nokia sold its Devices and Services business that was responsible for Nokia mobile phones to Microsoft. In 2016, Nokia announced the return to the smartphone market via HMD Global, a Finland-based startup that is the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand on smartphones. For further reading about the sale of the phone unit to Microsoft, we recommend the online available book Operation Elop.

Anyways, Nokia Mobile should have launched a Nokia 155 instead of Nokia 150 to commemorate Nokia’s 155th birthday. Missed opportunity there.


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