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Who Killed the Nokia Phone?

In the space of just a few years, the mobile-phone giant Nokia went from having a market share of more than 40% to selling its core business to Microsoft. Can the mobile-phone industry’s new champions, Apple and Google – not to mention titans in other tech sectors – avoid a similar fate?

HELSINKI – It seems to be a law in the technology industry that leading companies eventually lose their positions – often quickly and brutally. Mobile-phone champion Nokia, one of Europe’s biggest technology success stories, was no exception, losing its market share in the space of just a few years. Can the industry’s new champions, Apple and Google – not to mention titans in other tech sectors – avoid Nokia’s fate?

In 2007, Nokia accounted for more than 40% of mobile-phone sales worldwide. But consumers’ preferences were already shifting toward touch-screen smartphones. With the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in the middle of that year, Nokia’s market share shrunk rapidly and revenue plummeted. By the end of 2013, Nokia had sold its phone business to Microsoft.

What sealed Nokia’s fate was a series of decisions made by Stephen Elop in his position as CEO, which he assumed in October 2010. Each day that Elop spent at Nokia’s helm, the company’s market value declined by €18 million ($23 million) – making him, by the numbers, one of the worst CEOs in history.

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