The Mobile 15: Our picks for the most innovative companies

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Nokia

CEO: Stephen Elop

Number of employees: 122,148

The business:

Starting as a pulp mill in 1865, Nokia now  designs and creates mobile phones, which it sells directly and through carriers or retailers. The company also partners with Siemens in a joint networking infrastructure company.

The backstory:

Nokia  was the no. 1 seller of mobile phones every year between 1998 and 2011. It sold well-designed and -built handsets with hundreds of models available to meet practically every need. Using the Symbian platform, Nokia was synonymous with the phrase “mobile phone” in most regions of the world. The company helped develop the worldwide GSM standard for mobile telecommunications and has numerous patents related to cellular communication. Samsung passed them just year and they’re in danger of being passed by others true. But this year for the first time, Nokia was passed by Samsung as the leader in phone sales.

The innovation:

Nokia has tried to reinvent itself by dropping Symbian in 2011 and partnering with Microsoft to build Windows Phones. While this transition has yet to stem Nokia’s lost market share from Apple, Samsung and others, it has created a leaner, more nimble smartphone company. That has led to various innovations such as Nokia’s PureView smartphone cameras with floating lenses for advanced image stabilization. Nokia’s mapping technology has advanced as well, with support for both offline maps and navigation. The company has also increased the refresh rate on its displays, bringing a blur-free and fast response to end users.

The plan:

With Nokia’s transition to Windows Phone now complete, the company plans to make a big marketing push for its new phones. Success in the U.S. may be initially measured by carrier support. The company will continue to develop new smartphone technologies and bring the PureView camera system to future models.

—KCT

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