Nokia, until recently the world's largest cell-phone maker, had conceptualised devices that bear striking similarity to the present-day iPhone, iPad way back in the late 1990s. Needless to say, the devices never saw the light of the day.
In a WSJ article where Nokia executives present and past look at the company's journey from the top dog to just another vendor in the smartphone world, Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia, made the rather interesting revelation.
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."
It's not clear from the article if these were just ideas in a presentation or working prototypes, but the fact is Nokia passed over them, and we all know how that turned out.
Apple released the iPhone in 2007, and blew everyone away with its fresh design and unique decisions like dropping the stylus, which had been a integral part of most touchscreen phones until then. Nokia, and the rest of the mobile industry at the time, were slow to react to the iPhone.
Then Nokia CEO dismissed the iPhone as just a device with "cool factor" that would struggle to "turn mindshare into market share".