Apple ruined two key export markets for Finland, prime minister says

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb poses for a photograph at the government palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.
(Henrik Kettunen / Bloomberg)

Though the global recession and Europe’s weak economy deserve some blame, Finland’s prime minister is pointing to Apple Inc. for sinking two of his country’s biggest export industries into the ground.

“I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry,” Alexander Stubb told CNBC on Monday.

Nokia, based in Helsinki, Finland, surged in the early 2000s as its small, feature phones were in the hands of about one in three cellphone owners. But Nokia missed the transition to smartphones and ceded almost all of its market share to Samsung and Apple.

The iPad, introduced in 2010, and other tablets have shifted reading to book-sized digital screens. After falling for several years, production of paper for printing and writing actually increased in Finland between 2009 and 2010. But it’s been downhill since then, according to data from the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.


Last week, citing a forecast of a long period of stagnation, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Finland’s credit rating one notch to AA+ from AAA.

Stubb, however, was upbeat about his country’s economy, vowing a comeback as “dire times” lead to innovation. He said the forest industry could rebound from biofuel production, for instance.

Apple, meanwhile, is charging toward another industry: Digital payments.

Apple Pay, a system that allows an iPhone to serve as a credit card at payment terminals, is expected to launch in the coming days. On Saturday, MacRumors published what it said was an internal memo sent to Walgreen Co. employees indicating that Apple Pay would be up and running this coming Saturday. It’s also possible Apple could launch Apple Pay at an event at 10 a.m. Thursday, when the company is expected to unveil new iPads and MacBooks.


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