10,000+ reasons why Nokia is in trouble


Nothing beats a great visualization of a revolutionary phenomenon.

The screen shot above is of 10000iphoneapplications.com a site which lists the icon of over 10,000+ applications available for the iPhone as of today.

Ten thousand plus applications for a platform that is only some months old. Re-read that last sentence and think.

Never before in history has a software application platform performed so well. Users of the iPhone’s App Store have already downloaded 300 million applications according to Apple. The current rate has been calculated at 2.2 million application downloads a day.

Finding and installing an application on the iPhone is the easiest thing in world. A whole industry has emerged overnight, providing informative, useful, entertaining or downright useless applications for the iPhone. The most personal of devices, the mobile phone, becomes even more personal and relevant..

What does this have to do with Nokia?

A lot.

As the company demoed its flagship phone for 2009, the N97, with its amazing hardware and revamped touch interface and its QWERTY keyboard, the was a glaring omission: something to rival the App Store. Google’s Android platform already has an App Market. Nokia has the “download” folder hidden somewhere among the menus.

When Nokia held its Dead Sea press event in Jordan a while back, I asked the chief Nseries designer, Axel Meyer, how Nokia planned to deal with the iPhone’s threat with regards to overall user experience, I did not get a clear answer.

It’s about the phone’s interface, upgrading the software, personalization and application installation, not to mention availability of web services and the syncing with other devices. It’s all about a seamless, enjoyable and useful experience.

With every new application developed for the iPhone, the platform gains new usefulness, meaning and stickiness. Apple is winning this game in a big way.

Yes I know that there are tons of apps for Symbian too. The problem is, Nokia is not giving me an easy way to discover and install them. A few times I was faced with errors, certificate issues and other useless crap when I attempted to install applications on my N95.

Nokia is a brand that defines our age, because the mobile phone defines our age. Consider the fact that this company from Finland expects to sell over ONE BILLION phones in 2009. With all the devices Nokia already has in people’s hands, this is a company that touches almost the half of the human race, if not more.

That’s why Nokia will continue to to be the leader. But this size and power is probably what allowed Apple to come out of seemingly nowhere and truly re-invent this most personal of human tools.

As I consider booking an 5800 XpressMusic in advance, because I want a better browser and a touchscreen I can better type and see maps on, I am thinking of where this industry is going. Nokia is working hard to create local relevance, especially through mapping. Soon we will all be pointing out phones at buildings and streets to get oriented and to find what we need. Nokia is also embracing personal web feeds and the social habits of the Facebook generation. Ovi is there as a serious attempt at a software and services strategy.

But Apple has enabled personal relevance to REALLY happen on the iPhone. Soon enough, local relevance will follow, as developers from countries and cultures around the world start developing locally specific iPhone apps.

Apple is so busy with its success that it forgot to support Arabic in the iPhone. So Nokia is still winning in this field. But I wonder for how long.

All of this is super fascinating to anyone who appreciates the intersection of brands, design, technology and marketing. I will continue watching and thinking.

(have a look below at yet another cool visualization of the 10,000+ icons of iPhone Apps. Click to see the source)

iPhone Apps

8 Responses to “10,000+ reasons why Nokia is in trouble”

  1. Moey Says:

    I love it!

  2. Mohammed Al-shar' Says:

    I agree. your post made me think of the mac and how it is progressing. what I care for is how accessible something out of the box is, and the mac is just that. take the box, plug it, press a key and you have your screen reader going! I have never been a big apple fan, but such things make me wonder.

  3. Pastafarian Says:

    1 reason that trumps all the 10,000 reasons and will relegate the iPhone into a niche market: OPENNESS
    The reason that made the Apple Macs stay in the single number market share size for the past 25 years will eventually hit the iPhone “a lock-in platform”.
    Google’s Android will soon be running everything and anything. Even Nokia will eventually give up Symbian, and embrace Android. Just take a look at the Open Handset Alliance member list, guess what? there isn’t any major handset manufacturer that isn’t a member.

  4. Humeid Says:


    Android could be indeed a game changer. But its late. This multiplicity of manufacturers might also be a hindrance, not a help. Too many hardware platforms and form factors to cover will dilute the focus of the OS.

    The iPod marketshare has been holding up nicely despite and endless swarm of competitors.

    The Mac is gaining market share. Yes even after 25 years. That’s pretty amazing in my opinion.

    The overall user experience of the iPhone is a real winner. The better user experience is winning over all these new Mac customers and has made the iPod ubiquitous.

    User experience and brand are key determining factors. Nokia understands this but seems to be unable to do much about the jumble it has created over the years.

    Let’s also see if Android can manage to become a meaningful brand in the 2009. So far it is confined to tech-heads.

  5. Pastafarian Says:

    Hello Humeid,

    I think its much too early in the game to say that Android has been late, far from it. The smartphone market size is still in its birth phase and growing, and rapidly at that. It would have been late if the market was saturated, much like the digital music player market which is dominated by the iPod. Even Apple realizes that the iPod is dead, everyone has one, so now what? Colorful ones! And the only true competitor for the iPod is Sandisk, since they compete on price and there’s nothing in that market to compete for anymore besides price.

    The “one Apple fits all” product lineup will not work for mobile phones. The multiplicity of manufacturers is a strength, much like the hardware commoditization of the PC birth phase that forced Apple into being a niche. If you look at the list of members of OHA there are new comers to the mobile phone market, like Kogan and Huawei, and some have explicitly announced that they will have handsets ready by 2009. That should scare Nokia, Moto and SE more than Apple would.

    I would say Android is slow in its uptake, and 2010 would be a better year than 2009 for it to really be ubiquitous. I think eventually we would have three platforms, the iPhone, Windows, and the ubiquitous Android. Android will not have a snazzy interface as the iPhone, but it will be “good enough” and will have more selection of applications for it since it is “open”. And “good enough” and cheap is what most people want, take a look at Windows. Windows does not have the best GUI, Apple does, nor is it the most stable/most secure, Linux is, but 90% of desktops run it because its “good enough”.

    The Android brand will only attract tech-heads for ever, and that it should. Most people don’t know what Symbian is when they pick up a Nokia/Moto/SE handset why should Android matter? Eventually Moto/SE will advertise Android, just because “Android runs this/that application”. As your post points out, applications are the key determining factors for this new platform.

    I only fear that Nokia would be too late to jump on the Android bandwagon, they are pushing Symbian too much and that would be their own undoing. Even Maemo won’t be good enough for Nokia to get into this game.

  6. r00t Says:

    I don’t want motorola…! I want Nokia!

  7. Hani Obaid Says:

    and yet there are thousands of Symbiant applications too.

    Still I think the number of applications is as good a measure of popularity as sales figures.

    We’ll see what happens now that N97 and storm are out particularly since Nokia has historically made it much simpler for developers or anyone really to create new applications compared to Apple’s dictatorial application approval policies.

  8. Symbian Blogger Says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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