Nokia used to be a Finnish icon. Torchbearer of innovation, engineering and design.
Then, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone and denied Nokia the opportunities to be innovative, continue to create iconic designs or even engineer decent phones. If there’s anyone to blame for Nokia’s misfortune, slide in profits and marketshare, in the recent years, it has got to be the iPhone, Apple and their creator, Steve Jobs. Right? If only Nokia had invented the iPhone, all would be well.
Too many newspaper and magazine articles in Finland about Apple are blaming them for single handedly reducing Nokia from being one of the largest companies in the world to one which future as an independent company is no longer certain. (Microsoft could have bought them twice over with their cash holdings.)
Here’s David J. Cord for Helsinki Times: “[Steve] Jobs has probably been directly responsible for thousands of Finns losing their careers at Nokia or its subcontractors”.
Here’s another quote from Kauppalehti (to call them Financial Times of Finland is giving them too much credit but for the sake of familiarity, that’s the role they play there): “It is widely assumed that the [24th October] release date of Steve Jobs’ biography is timed to take press coverage away from Nokia World [which was on 26th Oct in London]”
Both quotes, I believe, represents the populist views that the press in Finland are eager to imbue. It’s easy to blame Nokias misfortunes to an outside force rather than be critical of the Finnish icon.
What’s worst in this is that this misguided view is mostly only held by the press and some of the public. Nokia management knew the ship was going to run ground unless the course was changed. They tried to change it but were not able to.
One personality trait that Finns have is a fear of failure. When you’re biggest fear is to fail it becomes near impossible to talk about it and accept it when you have failed. Nokia has been much more than just another company to Finns.
But that was in 2007. Now, in 2011, it’s high time for the press in Finland to grow up and 1) report on lessons that can be found in what went wrong with Nokia and 2) give a fair treatment to innovation that comes from outside the borders.