The Rise and Fall of Nokia, a modern documentary on smartphones

I grew up in the mobile phone era. Go back almost two decades ago and it was the year 2002. I was saving money to buy myself a Nokia, after having owned an Alcatel. One of the most popular and still a motive for many memes today, the Nokia 3310 was the mobile phone that pretty much everyone had and they had it for years. Fast-forward 2010 or 2015 and people still held 3310 close to their heart.

A few weeks ago I got the chance to watch an interesting documentary “The Rise and Fall of Nokia” (by BBC) about this Finish unicorn company that pretty much revolutionized the mobile industry. Not in the sense of Apple (with touch-screens) but in the sense of making the mobile phone sufficiently easy to carry and “humane”.

While the 6.7/10 on IMDB doesn’t necessarily give it justice, the documentary if you’re one of those type of geeks is well worth it. One of the highlights of the movie is the patent-clash with Motorola, the small innovations in production lines, the bad change of management (drunk on success and money) but most importantly of all is how the people that were hired into Nokia felt about the company, talking with great pleasure about those times of innovation, even though they’ve been through thought times as it neared the end.

Out of all the lessons there I think two remained with me: (1) it’s hard if not impossible to start a new unicorn as similar companies will patentfight you to the death just so they obtain a piece of the success pie and (2) money usually attracts the wrong kind of people, the success driven ones that would otherwise walk on corpses thus forcing a change in mentality that kills any kind of innovative thinking or risk taking.

If we look at today’s mobile market to say the least, sadly most of the phones are dominated either by Chinese or American brands. There’s no innovation from Europe’s shores mostly because we don’t have the power, money, technology and expertise to fight for market share in this domain. It’s a sad story that Europe’s so divided in interest that it fails to see the opportunities for its growth, even if that meant backing-up a Finish mobile company (or German, Italian, Greek or whatever the nationality).

Maybe after you watch the documentary you’ll feel intrigued about your flimsy iPhone or lagging Android you’re holding with you, that you need to change every couple of years because it gets “outdated” and applications begin to crash or stop running anymore. I am now, for 3 years or more an owner of an LG Nexus 5 but believe me do I hate the ever growing lagging applications with each new update (as if Google thinks I carry an i7 9th generation in my pocket).

I held a Nokia 3310 for 10 years up until the mobile technology grew to newer standards (from 2G to 3G and it became a need to switch). Most I’ve kept an Android was 3 years (and one year for a former iPhone 3G I used to have). Talk about quality …