Siemens Climbs Back

The German electronics giant has embraced speed, innovation, and the art of pleasing customers

Siemens used to make the toughest telephones in the world. You could chuck one against the wall, pick it up, and still hear your boss screaming on the other end. No wonder: It was constructed by engineers so bent on quality that they designed and produced their own screws. Early mobile phones took workers at the German giant a painstaking 13 hours to produce. Problem was, hardly anybody wanted to pay for that kind of gold-plating. No surprise that, by 1998, Siemens had slipped to ninth place worldwide among mobile-phone makers and was losing money at it.

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