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This article chronicles the storied journey of Nokia, tracing its roots in the wood-pulp business, its rise to dominance in the mobile telephony industry, and its subsequent struggles with market changes.

The Origins of Nokia

Nokia's illustrious journey began as a humble wood-pulp mill set up by Knut Fredrik Idestam in the south-western part of Finland in 1865. In the following year, he established a second mill on the banks of the Nokianvirta river, which inspired the name 'Nokia'.

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With an initial focus on paper manufacturing, Nokia ventured into several industries over the years including rubber, cabling, and electronics. The company's electrical power business was its first step toward the technology industry. Later on, the telecommunications sector caught Nokia's eye, effectively setting the stage for its ascent in mobile telephony.

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Through strategic divestitures and acquisitions, Nokia streamlined its business towards telecommunications. The company's significant breakthrough came in the 1980s with the advent of the 'Mobira Cityman', considered a symbol of prestige at the time.

Despite being bulky and expensive, the Mobira Cityman gained notable attention globally after a picture of the then-Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, using it was circulated in the media, catapulting Nokia into the international limelight.

Nokia's Golden Era

The 1990s marked the golden era of Nokia, with it establishing dominance in the mobile phone industry. The company introduced several innovative and user-friendly mobile devices that appealed to consumers worldwide. At its peak, Nokia supplied 40% of the world's mobile phones.

In 2000, Nokia launched the Nokia 3310, a small, durable, and reliable phone. The 3310 later came to be known as one of the most resilient, dependable, and best-selling mobile phones of all time, effectively cementing Nokia's position in the industry.

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Another key player in Nokia's success was the Nokia 1100, launched in 2003. Despite its simplicity, the 1100 was hugely popular due to its affordability and reliability, and by 2007, Nokia had sold 200 million units.

The company also introduced the world to the Snake game, which was hugely popular and became a defining feature in many of Nokia's mobile phones during this time.

The Advent of Smartphones

With the advent of smartphones, there was a gradual shift in consumer preferences. Consumers began to lean more towards phones with touch screens, leaving behind the era of button phones. Nokia, however, failed to adapt to these market changes.

While companies like Apple and Samsung quickly embraced the smartphone era, Nokia continued to release improved versions of its existing products, focusing mainly on hardware enhancements rather than critical software updates.

Even though Nokia launched the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, their first touchscreen phone, it failed to compete with the likes of the iPhone and Samsung's Android devices due to a lack of efficient and compelling software.

Nokia made another attempt at regaining its lost glory with the release of the Nokia N8, which introduced their new operating system, Symbian^3. However, it was again outdone by the already established Android and iOS ecosystems.

The Microsoft Partnership

In 2011, Nokia announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft aiming to regain lost ground in the smartphone market. This led to the Lumia series, which ran on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. The phones were well-received but struggled to compete against Android and iOS devices.

One essential reason for this struggle was the lack of popular apps on Windows Phone, which were readily available on the Android and iOS platforms.

The alliance ended in 2014 with Microsoft acquiring Nokia's Devices and Services division. However, this acquisition did not bring about the desired turnaround, leading to a significant write-down and job cuts.

Nokia was back at the drawing board, ready to re-strategize and rebrand once again, but this time, it would return to its roots.

The Future of Nokia

In recent years, under the guidance of HMD Global, Nokia has been making steady progress in its re-entry to the smartphone market. The brand is once again focusing on manufacturing reliable devices at accessible price points.

Nokia has adopted the Android platform for its smartphones and has been regularly delivering new devices aimed at different consumer segments. The company also launched a revamped version of the iconic Nokia 3310, catering to consumers who still value simplicity and reliability over bells and whistles.

Although Nokia is yet to reach the market dominance it had achieved in the early 2000s, it has managed to create a positive buzz around its new products and is gradually regaining some of its former loyal customer base.

There is no denying that while Nokia's story is a stark reminder of how quickly the tech landscape can change, it also inspires hope about the resilience of the brand and its potential for a strong comeback.

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