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Nokia's Bad Call on Smartphones

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Nokia's Bad Call on Smartphones

Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp. NOK1V.HE +4.30% , gave presentations more than a decade ago to wireless carriers and investors that divined the future of the mobile Internet.

More than seven years before Apple Inc. AAPL +1.43% rolled out the iPhone, the Nokia team showed a phone with a color touch screen set above a single button. The device was shown locating a restaurant, playing a racing game and ordering lipstick. In the late 1990s, Nokia secretly developed another alluring product: a tablet computer with a wireless connection and touch screen—all features today of the hot-selling Apple iPad.

Former Nokia designer Frank Nuovo says the company had prototypes that anticipated the iPhone. Dan Krauss for The Wall Street Journal
"Oh my God," Mr. Nuovo says as he clicks through his old slides. "We had it completely nailed."
Consumers never saw either device. The gadgets were casualties of a corporate culture that lavished funds on research but squandered opportunities to bring the innovations it produced to market.
Nokia led the wireless revolution in the 1990s and set its sights on ushering the world into the era of smartphones. Now that the smartphone era has arrived, the company is racing to roll out competitive products as its stock price collapses and thousands of employees lose their jobs.
This year, Nokia ended a 14-year-run as the world's largest maker of mobile phones, as rival Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +0.67% took the top spot and makers of cheaper phones ate into Nokia's sales volumes. Nokia's share of mobile phone sales fell to 21% in the first quarter from 27% a year earlier, according to market data from IDC. Its share peaked at 40.4% at the end of 2007.
Noting Nokia's History

The impact was evident in Nokia's financial report for the first three months of the year. It...

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