Finland’s Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told CNBC in an interview that Apple is to blame for the decline of the country’s two primary export industries, information technology (led by Nokia) and paper. “The iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the paper industry, but we’ll make a comeback,” said Stubb in response to a question about Finland’s business environment following the country’s recently downgraded credit rating. While the comment certainly appears to be more of a pithy jest than an outright accusation against Apple, it does aptly describe how several of the country’s major boom industries have seen their fortunes slip in the face of a changing marketplace.
As noted by TechCrunch, this isn’t the first time Stubb has singled out Apple in reference to his country’s economic decline since he took over as Prime Minister in June of this year. Speaking in July, Stubb made a similar comment mentioning Apple.
“We had two pillars we stood on: one was the IT industry, the other one was the paper industry,” Stubb told Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri.
“Nalle Wahlroos, president of (Swedish bank) Nordea, described it quite well when he said the iPhone knocked out Nokia and the iPad knocked out the forestry,” accelerating the fall of paper demand.
In the same conversation with Dagens Industri, Stubb quipped “Steve Jobs took our jobs,” with the promise that “this is beginning to change.”
Apple may be an easy scapegoat for politicians to blame, but the Cupertino company is not responsible for Finland’s struggles. While Apple did lead a revolution in the mobile phone industry with the iPhone, the Cupertino company did so by focusing on high-end handsets and not the entry-level phones that Nokia was selling by the millions. With a plethora of Android handset options at a variety of price points, Samsung instead was much a greater threat to the long-term survival of the Finnish company. Nokia has since sold its devices unit to Microsoft, tying its future to that of Windows Phone.
Apple’s iPad also is not to blame for the downturn in the paper industry, which has been in decline for years. The reasons for the slowdown in paper manufacturing are myriad and include the increasing use of email over traditional mail, the adoption of digital documents, and the steady decline in print magazine and newspaper subscriptions. With tablet shipments reaching only 200 million globally, the proliferation of Kindles and tablets, such as the iPad, are not yet significant enough to decimate the paper industry as Stubb implies.
Ironically, Apple and other technology companies have been supporting Nokia even as its mobile phone sales decline. In 2011, Apple ended an ongoing patent battle with Nokia and has been paying the Finnish company an undisclosed amount to license cellular technology owned by the company. This intellectual property may be netting Nokia a collective $685 million per year from Apple and other technology companies.
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