There are new Mobile apps coming out every day but inexplicably almost all of them skip the Nokia platform. This could be an interesting opportunity for other developers who could fill in these gaps for Nokia/Symbian platform which arguably is bigger than iPhone, Android or Blackberry.
Foursquare is a good example of a popular and growing service that doesn’t have a Nokia/Symbian play. Evernote promises to connect “all the computers and phones you use daily” but still skips Nokia/Symbian platform. Just yesterday, Amplify launched a new mobile bookmarklet which again is not available on Nokia/Symbian. These are just examples of many products that are focusing on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm and Windows Mobile (in that order) and skipping Nokia/Symbian.
Surely, Nokia and other Symbian based handset users look at these apps and wonder why they are being left out. Some of them may switch to a iPhone or Android or Blackberry but a large number stays with their device. If you look at the data, what jumps out is that forget abandoning Nokia, more users than ever are buying Nokia Smartphones. As per data from IDC, Nokia shipped 39.3% of the smartphones worldwide in Q1, 2010 which is ahead of Blackberry’s 19.4% and Apple’s 16.1%. Android, Palm etc are not large enough to be mentioned by name and are clubbed under Others. Nokia has maintained its market share while Apple has gained at the cost of Blackberyy. The absolute numbers also tell an interesting story. Nokia shipped 21,500,000 phones in Q1 of 2010 which is 50% higher than their own sales. In other words, if the same growth rate continues for another three quarters, Nokia would sell over 100,000,000 smartphones in 2010 alone! Combine this with the already installed base of Nokia and the number is truly staggering.
This begs the question of why so many apps are ignoring potentially the largest market for apps. Some reasons are:
The upshot is that large markets are being ignored because the overall market is huge. A blue ocean if you like. But it will take a lot of effort to own the blue ocean and I think justifiably so. So what are the opportunities for developers looking at this space? I think the following could be some themes:
Arbitrage Apps, apps that provide the same functionality as another one on another platform, in my opinion is not an opportunity most of the time. First, the original one is always ahead in learning curve due to greater adoption and feedback. Second, in copying the original the developer surrenders mentally and never recovers from that mindset. Third, once the arbitrage app shows traction, the original can start competing by launching on the skipped platform. So, no there isn’t an arbitrage app opportunity.
Image Courtesy: The Mobile Phone 1974 by catmachine