The Problem for Nokia

This morning, Robert Scoble, who is currently at LeWeb in Paris published this picture to his Flickr stream.

It is a shot taken by him of the audience, and is the answer to a simple request, for people to hold up their iPhone – just take a look at the full sized shot and count quite how many there are.

Back before the iPhone launched, Nokia and the other big players in the market were bullish. The mobile phone market largely consisted of largely similar devices, and Apple coming in with something that didn’t conform to what everybody else was doing wasn’t going to make an impact was it? They seemed to think that doing it different meant that the iPhone wouldn’t sell – everybody had been doing the same thing for years and the consumer would stick with them.

From a personal point of view, I had spent years being largely dissatisfied with what the established players had been producing. I’d bounced back and forth between Nokia handsets, Sony Ericsson, and even a Motorola handset at one point, my general feeling is that despite promising much, they’d generally failed to deliver, with annoyingly quirky user interfaces, buggy firmware, and a generally frustrating experience all round, hence why I’d ended up changing phones pretty frequently. The best mobile device I’d owned was still the venerable Psion 5mx

When I eventually got my hands on an iPhone, it proved to be a game changer – finally someone had actually managed to produce a mobile phone that was nice to use, and one that was a reasonable substitute for a desktop web browser. With the later addition of applications it became even more of a useful device.

The impression I get in tech circles is that I am not alone. At a couple of tech events I’ve attended recently by far the largest number of people had an iPhone – people who had been die hard Nokia fans, or had developed Windows Mobile apps for years had bought one, and weren’t planning on switching back. Now the numbers being used by non-techie friends is impressive, and the competition is struggling.

Check out this article in the Independent about the effect on Nokia, or this article about the recent Sony Ericsson Saito problems, with both the rise and rise of the iPhone, and the other new kid on the block Google Android it’s going to be very interesting to see what the second decade of the twenty-first century will bring for the old market leaders like Nokia

The iPhone users at LeWeb originally uploaded by Robert Scoble.

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