Nokia : The Inside Story by Haikio Martti is a corporate history of one of the world’s few non American, Japanese, Korean or Chinese manufacturers of consumer electronics that has been a success. Nokia currently sells about a third of the world’s phones. It sells more mp3 players and more cameras than any other company. Symbian, a company now owned by Nokia, produces an OS that runs on 46% of all smart phones. Nokia’s transformation from a Finnish conglomerate that produced timber products to a rubber manufacturer to a cable maker and then to a globally successful consumer electronics firm is interesting.
The book is a condensed version of a full corporate history by Professor Martti. The book has quite a few interesting anecdotes, for instance, Nokia is the name of a river in Finland that is named after a rodent. The book also has a fine finnish dry style that just tells things like they are.
The modern history of Nokia is that it had become a seller of cables and other electronics whose biggest market was the USSR. As the USSR collapsed Nokia knew it had to seek out other markets. It bought some German electronics manufacturers and briefly attempted to go into making TVs and other goods but lost money on them and had to get out. At the same time it started to develop mobile phones and base stations. Europe’s GSM standard and the EU allowed it to expand into the whole of Europe. Nokia was part of the GSM development and had voice compression algorithms that were selected.
Nokia then sat upon an exploding market and continued to make excellent products. As GSM became the most successful phone standard in the world Nokia rode the wave successfully to get where they are today. The book Jorma Ollila but also points out that it was the team that he put together that has enabled a company from a small European country to become a huge world player.
The book is rather dry but is a good way to get an overview of Nokia. Nokia is interesting for anyone who comes from a small country and wonders how their companies can possibly compete with the rest of the world in high technology areas. Nokia shows that with good management and international standards such success is possible. Hopefully one day there will be an Australian Nokia.