The rise and fall of Nokia, in one chart

Nadella and Elop had an uphill climb.
Nadella and Elop had an uphill climb.
Image: AP/Brian Smale
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Microsoft announced today that executive Stephen Elop will leave the company as part of a restructuring that combines its multiple device groups into one. Elop is the Microsoft executive who left to become Nokia’s CEO in 2010, and then sold Nokia to Microsoft for $7.2 billion in 2013, rejoining the company.

Elop’s big mistake was the semibold—but incorrect—move of aligning Nokia with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, which never caught on with consumers, app makers, or other handset companies. But you can’t really blame Nokia’s decline on Elop—it was likely doomed when he arrived.

Nokia, like other smartphone pioneers, saw the revolution coming. But it fell behind as Apple flipped the mobile industry upside down with the iPhone in 2007, and smartphones running Google Android arrived in 2008.

Post-iPhone, Nokia’s smartphone shipments continued to grow, peaking at 104 million in 2010. But Android smartphone sales catapulted past Nokia’s in 2011 and iPhone sales passed Nokia’s for good in 2012.

Nokia iPhone Android smartphone sales