1. glassofpinot's Avatar
    This WSJ article quotes a former Nokia chief designer who predicted 10 years ago where smartphones were headed, but he and his company couldn't get there. Maybe they didn't trust their prediction. It makes for very interesting reading, especially the first few paragraphs copied below. What lessons are here for others in the wireless business, including RIM?

    SB10001424052702304388004577531002591315494.html

    By ANTON TROIANOVSKI and SVEN GRUNDBERG
    In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop talks about innovation, management, and guiding the embattled company through a difficult transition.

    Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp., 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. 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.

    "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. 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.

    The impact was evident in Nokia's financial report for the first three months of the year. It swung to a loss of €929 million, or $1.1 billion, from a profit of €344 million a year earlier. It had revenue of €7.4 billion, down 29%, and it sold 82.7 million phones, down 24%. Nokia reports its second-quarter results Thursday and has already said losses in its mobile phone business will be worse than expected. Its shares currently trade at €1.37 a share, down 64% so far this year.

    Nokia is losing ground despite spending $40 billion on research and development over the past decade—nearly four times what Apple spent in the same period. And Nokia clearly saw where the industry it dominated was heading. But its research effort was fragmented by internal rivalries and disconnected from the operations that actually brought phones to market.
    (full article at link above)
    07-20-12 01:26 AM
  2. sleepngbear's Avatar
    Not sure where the lesson is here for RIM. RIM's mistake was thinking that BlackBerry was already the end-all be-all of smart phones five years ago. Pretty sure they've learned that lesson some time ago and are well on their way to showing us exactly what they learned from it. Nokia has been floundering for awhile now, starting the development of meego (and starting it too late), then abandoning it in favor of Windows Phone. RIM was just late figuring out that they needed to do something, and then they took a little too long giving that something focus once they did decide to take action. Kind of different paths here, though both were bitten by the same market forces.
    07-20-12 07:53 AM
  3. JasW's Avatar
    Interestingly, and it's not reported in the article, Nokia's sales in the North American market in Q2 increased 45% -- the first increase in that market in 10 years. WP8 will likely continue that trend in spades. Nokia has Microsoft muscle and marketing behind the OS on its phones -- RIM has, well, RIM.

    Despite a Loss, Nokia Reports a Windows-Based Lift
    amazinglygraceless likes this.
    07-20-12 08:04 AM
  4. JeepBB's Avatar
    Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp., 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. 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.

    "Oh my God," Mr. Nuovo says as he clicks through his old slides. "We had it completely nailed."
    Surely these presentations would be "published evidence of prior art"?

    If I was Nokia, I'd be seizing Mr. Nuovo's slides and having a quiet word with some friendly lawyers with a view to overturning patents and gaining royalties from ... well, everyone really!

    Or isn't that the way patents work?
    07-20-12 08:20 AM
  5. bk1022's Avatar
    It's very difficult to overturn a patent because they generally include some random variant of a part or process, like "over the air" or "via touchscreen" for existing ideas that have been patented for "physical connection" or "dedicated input device". The previous patents have already been shown to be airtight, so changing a few words here and there should yield equal results for the latest technology.

    Pharmaceutical companies have done that for years. They will hold back research showing some chemical is less effective, and then as the patent expires, they release that evidence and patent a new salt of the same chemical, or patent a more "effective" usage of the same chemical (like thalidomide).

    This is why good patent-law firms make boatloads.
    07-20-12 08:52 AM
  6. anon1727506's Avatar
    Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp., 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. 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.

    And Nokia clearly saw where the industry it dominated was heading.
    I wonder why Nokia isn't suing Apple for all the patent infringements....

    Their is a difference in having an idea, and being willing to WORK to make that idea successful.
    07-20-12 08:59 AM
  7. johnenglish's Avatar
    Surely these presentations would be "published evidence of prior art"?

    If I was Nokia, I'd be seizing Mr. Nuovo's slides and having a quiet word with some friendly lawyers with a view to overturning patents and gaining royalties from ... well, everyone really!

    Or isn't that the way patents work?
    This only works if they have patented the idea and design. I don't see any metnion of that in the article.
    aniym likes this.
    07-20-12 09:00 AM
  8. JeepBB's Avatar
    This only works if they have patented the idea and design. I don't see any metnion of that in the article.
    Oh, I don't mean that Nokia would be able to patent these ideas - I suspect that ship sailed long ago - but the fact that this publicly available information was out there over 10-years ago might mean that Apple's patents would be overturned due to the existence of that prior art.

    I doubt it's easy - I'm sure the patents are really tightly drawn because presumably these lawyers get the big-bucks for some reason? - but, it's surely worth a few hours of some smart lawyer's time to investigate this?

    And, if by some miracle, Apple's patents were overturned, Nokia would win a lot of friends (and Apple would presumably have to return the cash they've won in patent infringement disputes?) LOL. Samsung in particular would love to get Apple off its back.
    Last edited by JeepBB; 07-20-12 at 09:32 AM.
    07-20-12 09:24 AM
  9. glassofpinot's Avatar
    Surely these presentations would be "published evidence of prior art"?

    If I was Nokia, I'd be seizing Mr. Nuovo's slides and having a quiet word with some friendly lawyers with a view to overturning patents and gaining royalties from ... well, everyone really!

    Or isn't that the way patents work?
    It takes more than a drawing of an idea to show prior evidence. You would need to have the design for how to make it as well, and show that you HAD made it. Otherwise I could draw all kinds of ideas and say "I invented that". I could draw teleportation ( actually I would be too late, since Star Trek actually drew that already so they invented it )
    Last edited by glassofpinot; 07-20-12 at 09:42 AM.
    07-20-12 09:33 AM
  10. Knightcrawler's Avatar
    I was just thinking that. If Apple can sue Samsung for "slavishly" copying thier form factor, im certain Nokia could do the same to Apple. Wouldn't that be ironic.

    Still, its baffling to hear that they had such products almost a decade ago and didn't bother bringing them to market. Rim's mistake was not investing in R&D to develop such products, but Nokia had them in their hands and just threw them in the attic so they could continue making feature phones. Crazy.
    07-20-12 09:34 AM
  11. JeepBB's Avatar
    It takes more than a drawing of an idea to show prior evidence. You would need to have the design for how to make it as well. Otherwise I could draw all kinds of ideas and say "I invented that". I could draw teleportation ( actually I would be too late, since Star Trek actually drew that already so they invented it )
    Heh-heh... I was always slightly amazed that Apple got the basic design of the iPad registered - sufficient to challenge Samsung on look and feel issues - when any episode of Star Trek - Next Generation shows the crew using tablets that look uncannily like iPads! Maybe you can't claim prior art from the "future" - so I think your transporter patent might be in for a rough ride - LOL. But good luck!

    But... back on topic, from the OP description, this was much more than a quick scribbled rough sketch - they'd even worked out a process for user interaction.

    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.

    And I'm not sure it has to actually exist as a tangible product, merely be something worked out to the point where you could build it.

    But... I'm no lawyer!
    Last edited by JeepBB; 07-20-12 at 09:53 AM.
    07-20-12 09:43 AM
  12. johnenglish's Avatar
    From what I understand and having done a bit of work on trademarks a few years back, unless Nokia came out with an actual device, concepts and drawings don't mean much. You can only claim "prior use/art" when the actual device/trademark/whatever is put out to the public.

    Anyway, I'm not a lawyer so this is just my understanding of how things work.
    07-20-12 09:56 AM
  13. Knightcrawler's Avatar
    Well, i imagine if Nokia could sue Apple, they would have by now.
    07-20-12 10:15 AM
  14. Sith_Apprentice's Avatar
    Makes you wonder how many of these "aww sh!t" moments have happened with RIM over the years, if any. Would certainly give a bit of insight into things.
    07-20-12 11:00 AM
  15. sf49ers's Avatar
    Interestingly, and it's not reported in the article, Nokia's sales in the North American market in Q2 increased 45% -- the first increase in that market in 10 years. WP8 will likely continue that trend in spades. Nokia has Microsoft muscle and marketing behind the OS on its phones -- RIM has, well, RIM.

    Despite a Loss, Nokia Reports a Windows-Based Lift
    It's shameful to claim this as a win either for Nokia or Msft, in-spite of spending billions of dollars on marketing and huge backing by At&t they couldn't move 200,000 lumias (estimated they moved 350,000 lumias and off that a major chunk is T-mobiles Lumia 710), FYI..they sold 600,000 phones(that includes $40 drug dealer phones as well) in the whole of NA (that includes Canada and Mexico as well). By what estimates you think this is success for either companies? And more importantly these estimates are not sell through and are the ones that Nokia shipped, who knows how much inventory ATT and T-mobile has unsold on their shelves.
    Last edited by sf49ers; 07-20-12 at 01:44 PM.
    07-20-12 01:39 PM
  16. the_sleuth's Avatar
    Sometimes, the inventors or innovators are either too early with the product (before it's time), don't release it to market due to corporate malaise or simply don't properly execute. One only has to look at the following:

    Xerox invented the mouse and GUI in Palo Alto lab but Apple found success in MAC computer.
    Kodak invented digital photography but Nikon, Sony & Canon have mostly capitalized on it.
    Nokia invented the full touch screen smartphone and tablet with wireless yet it's Apple's accolades.

    Technological determinism will not rest for the weak in vision, execution, nor wait for lady fortune but it is the valley of gold for the opportunists.
    07-21-12 03:34 PM
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