THEN: With a steady flow of new networks and nifty handsets, the Finns were positioned to be the colossus of the next Internet.
NOW: Growth is slowing, the 3G market is swooning, and Nokia faces a brutal software battle with Microsoft in Web applications and handsets.
THEN: The only global wireless operator, Vodafone could stake a claim to 100 million customers--and sell them virtually everything.
NOW: Stitching together dozens of foreign phone companies is a bear. The key now is to make money on voice. The mobile Net? Put it on hold.
THEN: DT had the biggest Net service in Europe and was stretching across the Atlantic with a $50 billion buyout of VoiceStream.
NOW: With $60 billion in debt, Sommer would likely unload VoiceStream--if only there were any buyers. His grip on the top job is loosening.
THEN: With a $36 billion buyout of Orange, Bon landed a better brand than his own. But did he get the Prime Minister's O.K.?
NOW: Besides Orange, his buys are duds, from German wireless to British cable.