Nokia had iPhone, iPad-like prototypes back in the 90s, but didn’t launch any

There’s arguably a lot that’s common to Nokia and Apple. Both of them favor unique, simplistic designs that are easy on the eye and feel good in the hand. If you compare the Lumia series to the iPhone, you’ll see that while they are certainly quite different on a superficial level, minimalism is something that binds the two devices together.



But while Apple has seen its fortunes go on a meteoric rise this decade, Nokia has already reached the pinnacle of popularity and has recently been on a catastrophic downward spiral. There is a reason for that as well – Apple has experimented and failed (remember the frankly awful ROKR phone Apple made with Motorola?), but eventually gotten its act together to create some memorable devices and had solid foundations such as great marketing, retail and manufacturing solutions. Nokia, on the other hand has dragged its feet, choosing to stick with Symbian – an ancient OS by today’s standards – and not updating it (to the Android-like Belle, eventually) till it was already dead and buried. Now, it finds itself inexorably tied with Windows Phone – a new mobile OS with little going its way currently – and having a battle in its hands to convince customers about the benefits of buying its phones from both a hardware and software point of view.

Now, WSJ reports that Nokia chose to sit on prototypes of devices that predated the iPhone and iPad by years, and yet had practically all of the features that make the two Apple products so universally popular. With a corporate culture that laid more stress on research than launching any end product, a huge amount of resources got allocated to multiple teams working on different projects, making all of them compete with each other and thereby thoroughly slowing down the launch process of a product.

“More than seven years before Apple Inc. 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” – WSJ

It certainly is unfortunate that Nokia apparently spent 40 billion euros on research in this decade, an entire 4 times more than Apple, but is currently struggling not to fade away into oblivion.



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