The launch of the Nokia Booklet 3G this week was a bold move for a company that saw its greatest period of success after they decided to drop their broader interests and specialise in mobile phones. However, despite Nokia's single-mindedness, the Finnish giant's recent history has shown, if nothing, that they've always been willing to give ideas a try. So which of them worked out and which are the ones the company might rather we forgot.
Not a stunner by today's new-fangled standards but the launch of the 1100 was timed just right for the uptake of the mobile phone in a number of areas of the globe - China being one of them. It was released in 2003 and by 2007 had sold over 200 million units worldwide, at the time making it the biggest selling consumer electronics device with a further one million flying of the shelves each week. The one billionth Nokia handset sold was a 1100 in Nigeria.
A Nokia success story you'll still see on the streets in the West is the N95. It was the must have handset of its day and represented Nokia at its peak before the advent of a certain other member of the competition. It was the first phone to offer a genuine internet browsing experience that users could identify to what they'd find on their computer screens and the GPS and mapping applications added a level of excitement beyond. Add to that the 5-megapixel camera, which Nokia had by then perfected, and the two-way slider and it was small wonder that a million were sold in the UK alone in the first nine months.
Snake was a video game from the 1970s enjoying a quite happy modest success on computers like the BBC Micro before Nokia picked loaded it on as standard with all their handsets. The first to gain the privilege was the 6110 in 1997 and, doubtless, it was the cause of more confiscated phones at school than any other app before or since. The game has twisted, turned and grown into an assortment of versions - some better than others - but the concept has remained the same. It's currently on an estimated 350 million working handsets and is still available for download.
The Matrix phone. You know the one. The spring-loaded 7110 wasn't actually the handset used in the film - it was an adapted 8800 - and its fame and fortune isn't the reason it goes down as a Nokia success. Instead it was the addition of WAP browsing that gives it its place in history as the first mass market phone to come with internet access. Granted, most people were too terrified of the data charges to use it but it's an idea that's currently the driving force in the mobile market. Mercifully the technology has moved on from WAP, though.
Comes With Music
You might be surprised to find Nokia's "unlimited" music package on this side of the line but Comes With Music has been a roaring success in the Asia. There were queues around the block in Singapore for the release of the 5800 where the launch saw a 30% increase in the digital music market. It has been argued that with a strong foothold already in the Developing World and an improbable task in the EU and America, it was the East where Nokia was looking to expand all along.
Comes With Music
Whether or not Nokia was interested, the fact remains that Comes With Music has gone down in the UK like a serving of something you really shouldn't serve to someone and at the temperature least advised. The figures in April of this year were that the service had just 23,000 subscribers. Reasons for the failure could have been the handsets it launched with - initially not the 5800 - and the DRM on the tracks meaning that users can only listen on computers and their phones. There's still a chance, with Orange recently signing up to sell the bundle, but it could all be too much of a battle in the face of piracy and the possible arrival of Spotify on the mobile phone.
The N-Gage platform has never quite set the world alight but it's the original N-Gage handheld deck that secures the place as a failure. The unit, most flatteringly described as a "taco", came out in 2003 to compete with the Game Boy Advance for market share but it was clear very quickly that they were in two different leagues. Nokia's inexperience next to Nintendo's pedigree was obvious in hardware design and the units were also prone to a serious crash known as the "White Screen of Death". The N-Gage failed to make a series of expected targets and, despite claims by the company that X number of million had been shipped, this didn't reflect the numbers actually sold. After the failure of the second generation handset, the platform was moved to smartphones and now sits as a subsidiary of the Ovi store.
Released in 2003, the Nokia 7600 was actually the first 3G handset the company made. However, it was the leftfield teardrop shape that brought all the attention. It was aimed at the fashion market and had plenty of good features - whether or not you liked the shape - but there was an obvious design fault in that it required two hands to send messages or navigate the menus.
A year later came the "lipstick phone", again aimed at the fashion market. This time the design won awards but evidently it did no great shakes in the sales department. It's not a form factor that the company has continued.
Another one that looks a little out of place here is Symbian. It's an excellent mobile operating system. There's no doubt about that, but with Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and even Windows Mobile going from strength to strength, 2008 doesn't look like the best of times for Nokia to have acquired the company. Further along, it means that Nokia's bread and butter business, the handsets, could suffer with no Android offering to tempt consumers, while other manufacturers flock to Google's OS. It's also meant a large investment in Ovi, which itself only escapes this side of the list by virtue of being in its very early stages.