Before there were phones with the shiny glass backs, before bezel-less displays and before the era of the sleek and ultra slim phones, there was a time when relatively thick, plastic-y phones ruled the world. And people loved them. The time when Nokia was “The Brand”. Such was its domination that no one believed anyone could dethrone the Finnish king of the smartphone world. But then along came a phone from Cupertino and an OS from the Googleplex…but that is another story. Suffice to say that things went wrong for the company’s smartphone business which was sold to Microsoft, and at one stage seemed to have disappeared altogether.
But now it is back. The smartphone giant (which is now with HMD) reminded the world of its popularity by (re)launching the legendary Nokia 3310 at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona earlier this year and yesterday, made its return to one of its biggest markets, India, launching the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 in the country.
And while many are feeling nostalgic and others are busy looking at the new Nokia devices, we shoveled up the past a little to just remind people of what Nokia had done in the past. So, here are ten interesting facts we think many (especially the iOS and Android fanboys) might not know about Nokia…
- The company was initially started off as a paper production company in Finland in 1865 by Fredrik Idestam in the town of Tampere. In the late 19th century, the organization moved to another town which had a river flowing through it. The river was called Nokianvirta, and the town was called Nokia. Still guessing how the company got its name?
- Before the company made its way into the tech world, Nokia had a crazy array of products that it manufactured. From snow tires, gas masks and rubber boots to electricity and cables, the company did it all. In fact, the rubber boots by the firm became so popular that they became a classic design blueprint for boots. And it also had personal computers under the brand name MikroMikko
- All right, you will not believe this but one of the devices Nokia definitely did NOT seem interested in making for a while was…mobile phones! Legend has it that the company thought of mobile phones as “James Bond” gadgets which were way too futuristic and unreal. Nokia’s first mobile phone incidentally was the Mobira Senator in 1982. It was a car phone and was sold under the Mobira brand name, which was a joint venture between Nokia and Salora. The first mobile phone with the Nokia brand name was perhaps the Nokia 1011, which was released in 1992, and is also considered by many to be the first mass-produced GSM phone (it was also sold as the Mobira Cityman).
- The first commercial GSM call was made in 1991. The then Prime Minister of Finland, Harri Holkeri made this phone call in Helsinki using a – you guessed it – Nokia phone over a Nokia-supplied network.
- We all have heard the signature “Nokia ringtone” several times in our lives (there was even a band playing it at the launch in India yesterday). Even those who have not had a Nokia phone know the extremely popular Connecting People tune. Well, the Nokia Tune was actually a 19th-century guitar work called the “Gran Vals” by a Spanish musician, Francisco Tarrega. Initially, the company named the tune, “Grande Valse” but because it was a little too difficult for people to remember, they started identifying the tune as the Nokia Tune. And as the tune became more and more famous over the time, Nokia eventually had to rename it as “Nokia Tune” around 1998.
- While we are talking of tunes on Nokia phones, we all remember the “Special” Nokia SMS tone, right? Well, it is a popular belief that the Nokia SMS tune is actually Morse code for SMS. And yes, ‘Ascending’ SMS tone in the phones is Morse code for “Connecting People” which of course is Nokia’s tagline. Nothing is “just” an accident.
- We have all heard superstitions about the unlucky number 4 – tetraphobia (some say it is because the word for “four” sounds similar to “death” in many Asian languages, especially Chinese, Korean and Japanese). In recent times, even a famous brand skipped over the 4th edition of its device and went directly from 3 to 5. Nokia certainly does not like the number much. The company has maintained an arm’s distance from the number 4 in most parts of Asia, avoiding the number in most of its models retailing in Asian countries.
- Camera centric phones are now a hot trend in the market, and Nokia has played a major role in that. At one point the sales of Nokia’s camera-equipped phones outnumbered the sales many conventional camera manufacturers. Not just this, Nokia was actually also the first company to have ever launched a phone with a dedicated camera shutter button and the phone was… (drum rolls please) the Nokia N70. Now you probably know who was the boss of cameras on phones before Apple came along.
- Nokia recently launched the legendary Nokia 3310 and along with the old phone came back a veteran game, Snake. But the 3310 was also known as being one of the toughest phones ever made. Legend has it that when it fell on the floor, the floor cracked! Many is the meme it has inspired.
- Nokia has announced more than 500 models of phones over the years since 1982 which is the highest number of phones launched by any company. There was a time when Nokia manufactured 210 million handsets each year which meant it produced 6.5 phones every second. The highest selling phone in the world incidentally is a Nokia. The humble 1100 which was launched in 2003 has sold more than a quarter of a billion units. Nokia showed it dangling from the front of an Indian truck as it was driven across dusty roads in its ad campaign.
Oh, and one more thing (yes, we love Steve Jobs)
- In the Batman film, “The Dark Knight”, Bruce Wayne (with a little help from his tech wizard, Lucius Fox) used a Nokia Xpress Music handset (the as yet unreleased 5800, codenamed the Tube) as a high-frequency generator receiver to capture a criminal Lau. Even Batman needed Nokia. Now, how cool is that? Mind you, that WAS 2008…