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Is Nokia the new Apple?

Reported by Bruce Jackson, The Motley Fool.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Nokia is buying drinks at the Last Chance Saloon. (Getty)
Nokia is buying drinks at the Last Chance Saloon, writes Bruce Jackson. (Getty)
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Apple and Nokia are worlds apart…or are they?

Last week both Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) released their latest figures, and the market reacted in very different ways. This time it was Apple's shares that took the battering.

Four months ago, the California-based Goliath of the tech world saw its shares peak at $700, while the Finnish firm's stock traded a world away at just $2.40. The future looked rosy for Apple, and increasingly bleak for Nokia.

Today, though, Nokia's shares are more than 75 percent higher at around $4.20, while Apple's have collapsed more than 35 percent to around $450 .

Apple — Never fear

Apple is a multi-platform company, which has credited its success to being innovators in portable music players (iPods), smartphones (iPhones), desktop (iMacs), laptops (Macbooks) and tablet computers (iPads).

But is it a victim of its own success? Many commentators are declaring the 'death of the personal computer', citing the rise of tablets and pointing to the similar trend of consumers storing their music on their smartphones to avoid using two devices.

However, chief executive Tim Cook has said: "We know iPhone has cannibalised the iPod business. We know that iPad has cannibalised the Mac. Our strategy is to never fear cannibalisation. If we do, somebody else [will cannibalise.] I see cannibalisation as a huge opportunity."

So Apple's managers believes they know what they are doing. Indeed, despite serious smartphone competition from Samsung's Galaxy SIII, the latest results showed that 48 million iPhones sold in the last quarter still outpaced sales of the S3, which sold 40 million units. The question investors are asking is whether Apple can continue to innovate to stave off competition?

Nokia — Last chance saloon

Nokia once knew the feeling of market domination, as it used to be the handset market leader when the mobile-phone boom began.

In recent years, though — and Apple played no small part in this — Nokia has suffered at the hands of its competitors. As rivals released phones with more capabilities and selling points, Nokia's market share fell sharply. Some commentators even predicted that Nokia would no longer be with us as a stand-alone company by the end of 2013.

However, although Nokia's smartphone sales dived 55 percent during 2012, they did rally 26 percent in the last quarter. In fact, credit ought to go to Nokia's Windows-powered Lumia smartphone range, with 4.4 million units sold. The impact of the flagship Lumia range was seen by many as Nokia's last-chance saloon — fail, and the doors may have swung behind the company for the final time.

Is Nokia the new Apple?

So is this the start of a revolution for Nokia? Are Apple's shares a buying opportunity at their current price? Or has Apple had its time in the sun? It's too early to answer all these questions, but let's finish with a telling statistic.

Back in 2003, Nokia's shares changed hands for around $15. At the same time, Apple's were selling for a low of $3.28! Compare that to today's prices, and you see just how much can change during ten years in the technology sector.

With Nokia coming back from the brink, many investors are eying up its shares as more and more people start to ask questions of Apple.

Who's to say that Nokia's shares can't replicate Apple's success of the last decade? This, after all, is the technology sector we're talking about, and tech history dictates that anything can happen.

Let us finish by adding Apple's shares have surged an incredible 213-fold in the last decade — and many private investors can only dream of percentages like that.

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The Motley Fool's purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool's free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

This article, written by Sam Robson, was originally published on Fool.co.uk. It has been updated.

01/11/2014 02:36Sydney, Australia. 1 November,2014
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