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How did Apple leapfrog Nokia in the smartphone market?

July 13, 2009

I’ve been toying with with the idea of upgrading my phone (currently an N82) with one of the new generation smartphones, either an iPhone 3GS or a NokiaN97. Truth be told, I’ve been lusting after the N97 for some months now as I’ve been committed to Nokia since replacing my Ericcson 337 with a Nokia 6210.

Now that the N97 is becoming widely available I’m reading some of the reviews and having second thoughts. A video review that I watched this morning (from The Really Mobile Project) got me thinking about how Apple have taken the market initiative from Nokia over the past few years.

What Apple has done to leave Nokia behind in smartphone development

  • Made the app store something every user will access rather than something for gadget heads
  • Made development for the iPhone attractive to swathes of developers
  • Made connectivity seamless (no “choose your connection” dialogs)
  • Not buried the functionality in an old-school “tree / folder” menu system
  • Focused on some key functions which non gadget heads can relate to and made these the ‘killer features’ on top of the phone functionality (i.e. browser and media consumption)

And this is all on top of some of Apple’s traditional strengths, i.e. it’s beautiful, it works without much crashing, it’s well marketed, etc.

Admittedly, I’ve not decided one way or the other. I am an experienced S60 user and doubt would be able to find my way around without any problems. And the Nokia is functionally more capable (internet tethering? come on Apple, Nokia’s came with bluetooth modem drivers years ago). For me, the jury is still out.

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From → tech

3 Comments
  1. Robin Ashton permalink

    Interesting post, did you decide yet?

    Came across you via your silly experiment thingy… Not really sure I understand your aims completely though.

  2. Well – yes, I decided to hold fire on the N97 because the writeups were so lukewarm. The N900 looks quite spectacular from a hardware and functionality perspective, not to mention a compelling price (free on an equivalent contract to what I currently use).

    However – as much as it grates me – I think the iPhone will give me more utility. The sheer volume of apps will beget more apps and that means I’ll probably get more utility from the phone. I am holding back to see what the impact of the Orange and Vodafone announcements are.

    Re: sillysillyson. I had tweeted something about Google and it was immediately retweeted. I figured this was some sort of twitter account doing keyword monitoring and retweeting. The experiment was to try work out how that was done. I think I only got about halfway there. There is no publishing imperative to increase the sillyness, I just chose “silly” as a keyword for want of anything more intelligent.

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