Can Nokia Come Back From The Brink?

Will the Finnish tech company reach former glories?


Despite Nokia’s recent problems, its 1100 model - released in 2003 - remains the best selling phone of all time. For a sales record to last for so long, especially in an industry where products are being improved upon and introduced all the time, proves that the 1100 handset was exactly what consumers wanted at the time.

Of course, back in 2003 there were decidedly fewer models for consumers to choose from than there is today. The state of technology back in 2003 also meant that differentiating a product from that of a competitors was more difficult too. But the 1100 had the right balance between usability and affordability, allowing Nokia to become one of the industry’s most influential companies in the process.

On the back of that success, many would have assumed that Nokia would be one of the leading brands in the smartphone industry. Yet after a failed merger with Microsoft - worth $7.6 billion - it’s prompted many to ask whether it can stay afloat, let alone thrive. Going from almost complete market domination to a sell-off in ten years won’t have done much for the company’s confidence either, with the stock of its brand image falling drastically.

Yet there’s reason to be optimistic.

At a press event in Los Angeles this year, Microsoft revealed two of its latest products. One - an Android tablet - is unlikely to pique many people’s interest, the other - called the OZO - undoubtedly will.

The OZO marks Nokia’s first attempt at creating a virtual reality (VR) device. Aimed at professional content creators, the OZO has eight syncronized cameras, all of which operate simultaneously, with the device capable of putting all the feeds together in matter of minutes. It also has three separate microphones, which can recognize where a specific noise has come from. You can watch it in action in this video. In an article in Wired magazine, Katie Collins went as far as to call it a ’comeback’ for the former Finnish giant.

In the same piece, Ramzi Haidamus, President of Nokia Technologies, outlined his company’s plans, with it clear that the OZO is going to be central to their future strategies. He states; ’We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other. With OZO, we plan to be at the heart of this new world.’

Even before Nokia’s failed merger, people couldn’t understand why Microsoft were willing to take such a big gamble on them. Those fears came to fruition this July, with many presuming that with it went Nokia’s hopes of ever being a real player in the smartphone industry again. Let’s be clear, Nokia is unlikely to reach its former heights, but the OZO could set it on a different path, one away from the ultra-competitive smartphone industry which it’s struggled in recently.

The product’s release date is yet to be confirmed, but it’s probable that it will be available for shipment sometime at the end of 2015. As with all devices of this nature, it’s tough to predict how successful it will be to begin with, but with Nokia planning many more devices in the future, the OZO could be the first in a long line of Nokia created VR devices made to rival those created by Google and HTC.

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