Newsletter of the Mercurians

In lieu of the usual book reviews, we have decided to conduct an experiment. The following is an annotated list of selected books recently published in the field of the history of communications technology. The idea is that the annotated list is more useful than just a list of new books, because it provides more information. This format lacks the personal touch of a reviewer, but it allows us to publish information about more books, thereby making the exercise more valuable (hopefully) to you, the reader. We are interested in knowing what you think about this innovation, so please send your comments to:

The Nokia Revolution: The Story of an Extraordinary Company that Transformed an Industry .
By Dan Steinbock.
New York: AMACOM, 2001. Pp. xxxvii + 375; illustrated, bibliographical references (p. 323-361) and index. $27.95.

The Nokia Revolution is a dense book packed with the results of prodigious research into the mobile communications behemoth, including reams of charts, statistics, and history that are likely to overwhelm casual readers. Although Nokia now dominates wireless communications worldwide, it began in 1865 as something completely different: a small timber concern in rural Finland. In 1917, it became part of a three-company partnership that expanded its operations into rubber works, cable, and electrical power. Fifty years later, in 1967, the Nokia Paper Factory merged with The Finnish Rubber Works and The Finnish Cable Works to form the Nokia Corporation.

During the second half of the seventies and into the eighties, the firm’s CEO, the energetic and charming Kari Kairamo, guided Nokia’s transformation into a diversified, global corporation that led many extraordinary advances in portable communications. Tragically, however, Kairamo committed suicide in 1988. Jorma Ollila  succeeded him as CEO in 1992.

During the nineties, under Ollila’s  aegis, Nokia focused on digital (as opposed to analog) phones, while its chief competitors, Motorola and Ericsson, concentrated on developing new technologies. Today, Nokia makes about one out of every three cell phones in the world and is truly international. About half of its 55,000 employees (all of whom speak English) are Finnish, yet less than 3% of Nokia's revenues come from Finland.

The author, Dan Steinbock, is a “visiting virtual professor” at the Helsinki School of Economics as well as a researcher at the Columbia Business School.