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The Rise and Fall of Nokia


Economics, Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Birkinshaw J;Duke L

Publication Year



The case describes Nokia’s spectacular rise and fall, shedding light on the combination of external factors and internal decisions that resulted in the company’s handset business being sold to Microsoft in 2010.During the successful period of growth (roughly 1990 through to 2006), Nokia’s focus on design and functionality gained it a worldwide reputation. It was acknowledged as the first smartphone manufacturer. Through the early-mid 2000s it was the undisputed leader in the global mobile phone business. The case traces the first signs of trouble and the company’s subsequent decline over the period 2005 to 2010. Pressure in the early 2000s from low-end competitors led to early signs of problems. Then of course the game changed in 2007 with Apple’s iPhone and a year later with phones powered by Google’s Android operating system from HTC, Samsung and others. Nokia was initially dismissive of these new offerings but its proprietary OS, Symbian, was ageing badly and its App store (Ovi) was no match for Apple’s. In September 2010 it was announced that American Stephen Elop, formerly of Microsoft, would become CEO. Not long afterwards a partnership with Microsoft was signed which subsequently led to Nokia’s handset business being sold to Microsoft.

Topic List

Corporate strategy, Market disruption, Technological innovation



LBS Case Number




Available on ECCH


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