I don't think this is a fair criticism of GSM at all
I think this is a grossly unfair criticism of GSM and it's crediting Apple with market smashing innovation it did not have.
GSM was hugely liberating as it made it possible for the first time for consumers to pick their own hardware and mobile carrier. From day one, it mandated a SIM card which gave the consumer control to bring hardware they owned from network to network without any need to do anything other than swap a smart card.
Before that you had absolutely lock-in and on US CDMA networks you still do.
When Apple launched the iPhone first it was incredibly locked to networks, far more water tightly than any other device I've encountered. They're extremely difficult to unofficially unlock and unless you're buying the phone outtight from new you're very much controlled by your network. It's understandable where they subsidise the phone.
European networks also implemented full number portability long before the US and many other markets and had generally more competition.
All telcos all over the world had a notion they were going to be content providers and put you in a walled garden of WAP and iMode and so on. That didn't work out as mobiles became capable PCs and an expectation of full open internet access was the norm.
Apple doesn't generally distribute phones straight to consumers anymore than Nokis did. You could always buy a Nokia or any other phone totally independently of a network but you had to pay full price. The exact same case applied to iPhone from day one. They were when more likely to he networks subsidies and locked because people generally don't like handing over €700 -1000 for a phone and would rather fund it through a carrier subsidy.
GSM has been a phenomenal set or technical standards that are fully open to use. Networks can a use equipment from multiple vendors. There is no lock in to proprietary standards unlike CDMA One / CDMA 2000 or other single platforms.
There's been an absolute revolution in technology in the last decade and a half in terms of mobile technology and European driven standards have been at the core or that.
Nokia's handset division failed because Nokia didn't have the technical ability to develop a useable OS and touch screen environment.
Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, Alcatel, and others European handset makers along with US players like Motorola, Japanese companies like NEC and Fujitsu came to the handset business as a development of their telco equipment operations. These companies, especially Nokia, Alcatel, Siemens and especially Ericsson are massive network equipment companies and have been for decades (over a century in the case of Ericsson). They're Europe's Bell Labs counterparts. They had no experience of producing direct consumer products. The provided telephone exchange and their model historically was selling to telcos.
Meanwhile other entrants like Sony, Philips and Panasonic etc had experience in consumer products especially in audio visual stuff.
NONE of these organisations were computer companies producing software for consumer and business desktops.
What happened quite simply was the technology hit a tipping point, a paradigm shift, where the device was a mobile PC, not a phone. So it was inevitable that silicon Valley had a huge huge lead. An iPhone has a lot more in common with a Mac than it does with a telephone.
That's why Apple and Google dominate. These devices are PCs.
Just like 1980s and 1990s landline telcos and cable companies didn't make it into online services and interactive TV, mobile telcos soon discovered they're also just dumb pipes and don't really have the v ability to develop the killer apps.