Nokia's shareholders on Tuesday voted to approve Microsoft's acquisition of the company's Nokia's Devices & Services business. The deal marks the end of an era that has produced many iconic phones.
The Nokia 2110 arrived in 1994, and was arguably the most iconic mobile phone of its era. It certainly provided the DNA for all the candy bar phones that followed, said Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight. The hardware cemented the keypad layout, with the "send" and "end" keys easily accessible and buttons to select the soft keys displayed on the screen. The software offered a logical way to navigate through menu options and also introduced new features such as the ability to send text messages, he said.
Nokia Communicator 9000
"The Communicator 9000 combines a GSM phone with applications like fax, e-mail, short messaging and Internet access. It also includes the most useful organizer functions; a calendar, an address book and a calculator.
All of this is available in a sophisticated, pocket-sized unit," Nokia said when the device was launched in 1996.
The device was a brick at 397 grams, but a phone that could be opened to reveal a handheld computer was a big step.
"I remember how amazed we all were when we started hearing rumors about a phone 'that opens and has a computer inside it' after Nokia had given a private showing at a VIP event at the Austrian ski resort of Zell am See. It is easy to look at it now and make jokes about its size and weight, but this was one of the first mass-market smartphones," Wood said.
The 7650 was launched in 2002 and was the first Symbian Series 60 smartphone from Nokia. It was also the first mainstream handset to feature both a digital camera (with a 0.3-megapixel resolution) and MMS picture messaging, according to Nokia.
It set the benchmark for rival smartphone efforts and initiated a long line of Symbian products that at their peak dominated the smartphone market, according to Wood.
The N95 was the pinnacle of Nokia's smartphone efforts in the pre-Windows Phone era. It was announced in September 2006 under the banner "It's what computers have become." For 550 euros (US$743) users got a phone with a 5-megapixel camera, GPS and a 2.6-inch screen.
However, Nokia had become too cocky and like many other companies it underestimated the threat from Apple's iPhone, which was released just a couple of months after the N95 started shipping.
"Looking back, the N95 and its successor, the N95 8GB, marked the point that Nokia lost its way. Although Nokia's market share peaked at a staggering 40 percent in the following year, the devices that followed, the N96 and the truly awful N97, were the start of the downward spiral," Wood said.
Nokia may have lost the smartphone battle, but the company went out with a bang. It's the cheap Lumia 520 that has helped increase sales, but the Lumia 1020 and its 41-megapixel sensor have helped raise the profile of the Lumia family and Windows Phone.
"This is probably the phone people will remember as the last iconic product from Nokia before it becomes part of Microsoft. I'd argue it has also contributed to the recent uptick in Nokia's market share, albeit as a 'halo' product that helped sales of cheaper Lumia devices in the range," Wood said.
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