Finland: Nokia: communications breakdown?
22 June 2011
The mobile phone manufacturer is a source of national pride, but it's struggling to keep pace with the competition. This highlights a technology gap that that has become a handicap for the entire country.
The ‘never mind the model, always buy Nokia’ reflex, so deeply embedded in the psychology of Finnish consumers, has had devastating consequences. Over the past few years, Finland has fallen behind in the field of mobile Internet technology. As we recently reported, the specialist market research company Zokem has found that the country is now two years behind the United States. This state of affairs is largely due to Nokia’s complex interfaces, which have slowed the development of mobile Internet and the use of other more elaborate applications. The company has defined limits for the adoption of new technologies that are holding back the Finns. Nokia has also limited the development of telephones and networks on a national level, which is strange when one considers the company’s global dominance in this sector. Its awkwardness on the issue is probably related to the fact that services like Skype, Spotify and Twitter were not developed in Finland.
Time to look beyond
However, the situation is slowly changing, as Nokia’s dominance in the country’s collective imagination begins to wane. Finns now have the courage to choose products produced by other brands, and they are increasingly demanding new web-based inventions. Today’s Finnish Internet start-ups can look beyond Keilaniemi [a neighbourhood close to Helsinki where Nokia has its headquarters]. Rovio, the developer of the video game Angry Birds, which launched on Apple systems before conquering the rest of the world, is a case in point. This is an important development, especially when one considers that Finland's future will be determined in the field of technology, not industry. It means that the number of people on the cutting edge, who have gone beyond the limits set by Nokia, is on the increase in Finland. But we should not undestimate Nokia’s achievements. The group is responsible for creating a network of companies and for developing the skills that paved the way for the emergent Internet culture in Finland. Its world-leading position in the mobile phone market has done a lot of good for the country. If Finns have faith in the corporate giant’s ability to renew itself, a way forward is not impossible. The best outcome would be for Nokia to rise again from the ashes. But if that doesn't happen, a way to return Finland to the forefront of Internet technology has been clearly mapped out. With this in mind, perhaps the ultimate favour that Nokia could do Finland would be simply to collapse.