Nokia: Life after the fall of a mobile phone giant

On the face of it the little Finnish town of Nokia looks wholly average. A few squat blocks of flats are snuggled in the winter snow, and along the heavily gritted main roadway is a little strip of stores, dining establishments and a discount rate grocery store.

There's little indication that this peaceful backwater as soon as gave its name to the company that changed the mobile phone industry in the late 1990s and helped turn Finland's economy into among the most thriving on the planet.

At its peak in the early 2000s Nokia provided 40 % of the world's smart phones, creating Finland's very first worldwide identified consumer brand name.

In the house its effect was even greater. According to the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy it contributed a quarter of Finland's development between 1998 and 2007 - a duration Finnish finance minister Alexander Stubb calls an "economic miracle".

However as quickly as it emerged, Nokia's supremacy of the mobile phone market came crashing down, hitting Finland's economy hard and accompanying the longest economic crisis in the country's history.

"Nokia was huge in Finland by all indications, and when that was reduced we were frightened about the possible effects," says Kari Kankaala, director of financial and urban advancement for the city of Tampere.
'Backbone of everything'.
Tampere has to do with 15 minutes down the roadway from the town of Nokia, and the website of the company's biggest research study and development website, at its peak utilizing 4,000 modern, competent employees.

The city's old redbrick smokestacks inform the story of its 19th Century industrial past, but the rise and fall of Nokia's mobile phone business has actually controlled its more recent history.

"It was the backbone of everything here," says MrKankaala. "The universities relied on partnership with Nokia, the subcontractors depended upon Nokia, the kids count on being used by Nokia.".

"Now we have an horrendous joblessness situation of the order of 14-15 %.".
Other modern companies have actually since relocated to fill the void. And Nokia's different networks business, focusing on telecoms infrastructure, continues to be an effective Finnish business. A broader financial despair in Finland means less people are working with now.

Finland: The sick guy of Europe?
In Tampere previous Nokia staff members still ponder how the company went from world leader in cellphones as just recently as 2007 to the struggling takeover target for Microsoft in 2014.

"I think among the peaks was when we 'd diminished the cellphones smaller sized than Motorola," states Mika Grundstrom, a former senior manager at Nokia's R&D website in Tampere. "That was around 1997-1998. It was kind of an engineering dream.".

The iPhone result.
For Mika the quick in the early days was basic - make the phone with the very best battery life in the tiniest case possible.

Then all that altered with the rise of the smartphone, and in particular the launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007.

"Things ended up being much more complicated. We were not so sure anymore what we need to really target. Is it ease of use, is it battery life, is it size?" he states.

"If you think of the battery life - we had gadgets that could last for a week. You have this new gadget, it's exceptional but you need to charge it every day. Ok so how do you in fact sell that to the consumer?".

Nokia played catch-up in the mobile phone market until 2014, when its mobile phone business was sold to Microsoft and the Nokia name was removed from its gadgets entirely.

However regardless of its effective demise, many Finns state there is a positive heritage to appreciate.

"Giving Nokia shares to workers made it accepted that your next door neighbor might be a millionaire," says Kari Kankaala. He says Nokia's greatest impact was to change Finland's business culture.

"That acceptance that someone can really generate income, integrated with the new technique to entrepreneurship - that was a major change.".

Start-up legacy.
2 hours to the south in Helsinki there are already indications of that new business culture holding in the post-Nokia world.

TuomasKytomaa is a software engineer who invested the majority of his career working for Nokia, including stints in the US and Germany.

Last year he went back to Finland to work for the online retailer Zalando and established a tech center on the site of an old cable television factory in the Finnish capital, now transformed into trendy office space.

For him Nokia's heritage is a wealth of skill and expertise waiting to be tapped.
"The skill hasn't actually gone anywhere," he states. "The large magnitude of Nokia in Finland means that there's a pool of tech talent that has deep specialist understanding.".

"Finland's buzzing with high-tech abilities and start-ups.".
Whatever the future of Finland's tech market, couple of believe that a company of Nokia's size and impact will appear again.

"When Nokia was a dominant gamer in this business, there were a great deal of good things that happened in Finland," states Seppo Haataja, another former supervisor at Nokia's research and development website.

"Now the scenario is changing. the developments are not coming through the big business - it's little companies, the launch.".