How Nokia missed the smart phone boat

Years before Apple surprised the world with the iPhone, Nokia had demonstrated a prototype touch-screen handset which was unceremoniously mothballed.

According to a former employee of the Finnish telecoms outfit, the web-ready, large-screen device was rejected in 2004 by management because they they thought it would be an expensive flop.

“It was very early days, and no one really knew anything about the touch screen’s potential,” Ari Hakkarainen told the New Yawk Times recently. “And it was an expensive device to produce, so there was more risk involved for Nokia. So management did the usual. They killed it.”

Apple launched the original iPhone in 2007 and has has since gone on to dominate the app phone market selling more than 50 million units worldwide.

Hakkarainen tells the tale of a company which became crippled by executive indecision following a meteoric rise to popularity during its early years.

According to the report, short-sighted Nokia execs also rejected plans for a web-based application store along the lines of iTunes and its ilk.

Nokia is probably the last of the major handset players to offer an alternative to Apple's much-copied innovation, and it remains to be seen whether the company's new incoming chief exec, ex-Microsoft man Stephen Elop, will kick the foot-dragging Finns into touch.

We'll file this particular yarn alongside that of the Decca executive who rejected the Beatles in favour of the Tremeloes because they lived closer to the recording company's head office and would incur less travelling expenses.