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September 11, 2008

Is Nokia still in the phone business?

ESPOO, Finland – Nokia reorganized recently around Internet service creation and deployment, is rolling out Internet service after Internet service, and using a lot of brain cycles of very smart people to fuse mobile services with the Internet services. Yeah, this isn’t your father’s mobile phone company anymore.

But that got me thinking. What parts of Nokia could stand on their own? I mean, is Nokia just in the phone business?


Don’t be fooled. Nokia, to me, is first and foremost a software company – from the software that figures out the 3G radio signal, deep in the electronics of the phone, to the operating systems that run its phones to the software and services that we see and use on the phone, PC, and Web. Yeah, there’s a lot of software Nokia churns out every day, just to do our job. And, coders and product managers have a high understanding of how mobile software needs to work. Indeed, the move into Internet services was just an extension of all the software Nokia keeps building.


One thing that folks might not notice is that to ship 400 million devices (plus accessories) in 365 days Nokia needs a top-notch logistics system. I found out that our participation goes beyond logistics, to taking part in professional logistics trade organizations, sharing best practices, and doing things few other manufacturers do.


We do really well in hi-tech research around mobile technologies. We have Nokia Research Centers all over the globe and do research ranging from music to radio technology to Nanoscience to education. This research serves as a great pipeline, feeding innovations that we put into our devices and services, but also contributes to other industries and academic research as well.

To follow what our tech researchers are doing, I suggest you follow our CTO’s site.

User research

I was once talking to the VP of Product Management from a successful small company I admire. We were at an internal Nokia event he had come to talk at, where he got a glimpse at some user research we were going over. He pointed out to me the volume of user research Nokia does, and that what I took for granted was something other corporations could only dream of having, or even doing.

We have all sorts of scientists trained in observing people. Heck, we even have anthropologists working for us. And the thick reports they write (alas, mostly for internal use) could be deep academic books in their own right.


Last, but no less amazing, we have a great team of designers and specialists who prowl the world for the latest trends in design, materials, usage patterns, and so on, and translate that into near- and far-term mobile devices, service and device user interfaces, and new ways of going mobile.

We’ve been covering the cools things Nokia Design has been doing, from Homegrown to Industrial Design to participating in the design world and challenging our thinking.

OK, so this might come across as me being the cheerleader. But, the point of this post was to highlight things we do beyond ‘just’ mobile phones.

To me, these were the places within Nokia, places we kinda keep to ourselves, that could be leaders in their respective areas. So, while everyone rates us on how many phones we make and where we ship them to, we have huge chunks of the company that can stand up, quite happily and easily, on their own.

And that’s good to know. No?

Image from zappowbang. You do know we used to make rubber boots?