Nokia was ahead of its time in phone and design, software - but failed to capitalize

In a bit of retrospective analysis, The Verge looked at Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) device business before Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) acquired it, and indeed before Nokia had committed to Windows Phone, and concluded that Nokia was clearly ahead of the curve in terms of smartphone design and software, but failed to translate that into commercial success. In this respect, Nokia is similar to Palm and its webOS platform and others that were unable to capitalize on early mobile innovations.

As The Verge noted, Nokia was ahead of the pack in terms of industrial design with its N8 Symbian phone in 2010, which combined an aluminum unibody frame and what would have been the first 720p video recording capabilities in a camera phone. Unfortunately, repeated delays in getting the phone's software together pushed the phone's launch back by months. Nokia also led in mobile mapping and location-based services before Google Now and similar services, but was unable to get that to translate into meaningful success in the market due to compromises it made in maintaining the familiarity of its old Symbian software.

Nokia tried to forge ahead with the open-source MeeGo OS running on the N9, the company's first (and only) MeeGo phone. The device's multitasking overview and app switcher has been widely adopted, as has its ability to double-tap the phone's screen to wake it up, The Verge noted. But by the time the N9 was released, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop felt it was too far behind, and had decided to embrace Windows Phone as the company's salvation. Article