Apps Over Handsets and Why Nokia Got Left Behind

For a long time the mobile market was dominated by a few big hitters, the most major being Nokia. However in 2007 when Apple entered the market and introduced consumers to the idea of the Smartphone, the big hitters were left on the subs bench.
These days, however, almost everyone with a mobile has a Smartphone. But Smartphones aren’t phones at all, they’re miniature computers that can make calls and send text messages, and although the touch screen is what initially attracted the public and media attention, the defining feature which sets them in a league of their own, is the ability to include apps.

Applications allow users’ mobile phones to be endlessly adaptable; it makes the devices capable of an exponential amount of tasks that attempt to streamline daily issues and make life less stressful. Whether it’s forecasting the weather, finding a restaurant or checking cinema show times, there’s an app for all these things and more.

The previous leaders of the mobile market such as Nokia, Samsung and Motorola, had specialised in handset technology, and it was this technology that was the primary feature that continually developed in the industry. But Smartphones knocked all these out of the water because with all the applications Smartphones made handsets totally redundant.

Back in the late 90s Nokia was Europe’s most valuable company, however in 2008 it was reported that the company’s market value had shrunk from 203 Billion Euros (in ’99) to 29 Billion Euros. The Finnish developer was late to the Smartphone party and although it soon introduced Smartphones into its range of devices, the consumers were completely unfamiliar with Nokia as a Smartphone developer so the major issue was, why would consumers chose to purchase a Nokia handset over an iPhone?

This was the Apple effect and it revolutionised mobile technology forever. Nokia have been playing catch-up for a long time, and to be fair, they haven’t done a bad job. With several efficient and stylish models on the market, like the Lumia 800, the 808 PureView and the N8, Nokia are dominating the Windows Phone sector. Since January this year Nokia’s share of the Windows Phone market propelled from a meagre 22% to 59% in July. Unfortunately Windows Phone, Microsoft’s new mobile operating system, isn’t proving particularly popular (accounting for only 3.5% of all Smarphones shipped) and so this needs to expand significantly before Nokia can really feel the benefit of leading the charge in this specific market.

Apple stayed ahead of the curve by changing the game entirely. They made mobile technology evolve, pushing the very idea of what a mobile could be. By creating what are essentially portable computers they made mobile phones capable of so much than just phone calls and text messages. The mobile market is a continually shifting sphere, but it’s safe to say that thanks to Apple, apps are here to stay. Unfortunately for Nokia they may have realised this a little too late to ever enjoy their Halcyon days of the 90s again.

This article was written by Barry Cooke. Barry is a respected mobile usability consultant who has been working in the mobile market for over 15 years in a number of different sectors from online dating apps to finance and travel.

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