Outside of the serious enthusiast press, the N9 received very little attention, and even then a great deal of it was lavished on the industrial design - which was certainly best in class. Unfortunately the hardware was a couple of years out of date and the software just wasn't good enough. (Ever actually tried to use the keyboard? Or deal with Tracker's famed 'just out of time' indexing, where it finishes pegging your CPU shortly after you'd given up on actually being able to listen to music? Or how about syncing your phone with anything? The Twitter app? Email?)
And this is the phone which would've saved the company.
Also, look at other events which have happened since then: Android maturing, and attacking all market segments, from Samsung's high-priced flagship-every-six-months to random Chinese OEMs white-anting S40's marketshare with €50 smartishphones (remind me again too, what was MeeGo's low-cost strategy?); Apple becoming the most valuable company on the planet by not only shipping boatloads of iPhones, but getting the halo effect from the iPad; the similar demise of RIM/Blackberry, for which people seem to see a totally broken company and corporate culture on every level rather than just blaming one person; 'app' has become one of the most-used words, forcing Android to completely change every element of its deployment strategy to even compete at all in an area where neither Symbian nor MeeGo have ever, ever been relevant.
Ten years before Elop, Nokia had amazing tech in its research labs which they still haven't managed to productise. It was (and still is) great at the logistics of shipping very cheap and simple phones, squeezing every cent out of the margins. The Lumia series is the first really viable phone series I've seen them ship and execute on since the N95, and even then they found a way to screw the pooch: after publicly announcing that they'd receive major upgrades, they claimed that WP7 phones couldn't get upgrades as WP8 supported SMP and NFC, and tried to keep the early adopters happy with a tiny incremental upgrade that let you change the size of tiles. Proof that as an organisation, they're still totally incapable of growing and supporting an ecosystem. And that's not new, or any one person's fault.