This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful articles you’ll ever read about Nokia’s demise. Five years ago, in 2008, a journalist wrote a letter to Nokia, on his own behalf, as a regular person (so not as a journalist). In it, he detailed how Nokia phones used to be easy to use by everyone. However, the Nokia E51 he was using now was a complete mess, insanely hard to use. He ended the letter with prescient words: “This will cause problems for Nokia”.
The letter made its way to Nokia, and apparently caused waves inside the company, up to the highest levels. Company executives wanted to explain the company’s strategy to him, and eventually, one executive even met up with him on a personal note. After first parroting the usual corporate speak, the executive eventually broke.
“I agree completely with everything that you wrote in your letter and what you have said now.”
I was astounded.
“I completely agree with you and I want to apologise on behalf of Nokia for producing a bad telephone for you.”
Then he started to tell about how a top-secret project had been launched at Nokia, in which a completely new operating system was being designed. It would result in new kinds of telephones. They would be easy to use and they would change everything.
I met the director again a few years later.
Then it turns out that he had been talking about the Meego. However, the project moved forward slowly, and finally the new CEO Stephen Elop shelved it completely.
This same Nokia executive took one of the many original iPhones Nokia bought home right after it was released.
As an experiment, he gave the telephone to his daughter, and she learned to use it immediately.
In the evening as the parents were going to bed, the drowsy four-year-old appeared at their bedroom door with a question: “Can I take that magic telephone and put it under my pillow tonight?”
That was the moment when the Nokia executive understood that his company was in trouble.