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A Warning to Online UK Sportsbooks: Take Note of Nokia’s Mistakes

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Who all had a Nokia? Yeah, lots of you did. But who still has a Nokia mobile phone?

Everybody knows what Nokia meant. Everyone remembers the ‘Nokia ringtone’. Anyone over the age of 20 either had, or knows someone who had a Nokia mobile phone. Nokia were cool. Nokia had that incredibly addictive snake game. Nokia were market leaders.

Not anymore though; now, Nokia sucks.

They had the world in the palms of their hands, and their phones in the palms of the world. For years they were at the top of the mobile phone food chain. That hasn’t been the case for a while now. It’s safe to say that Nokia fell hard.

So what happened to the Finnish mobile giants, are they gone forever? And what does this have to do with online sportsbooks in Britain? Well, read this article and find out what lessons must be learnt from Nokia’s unfortunate story.

Nokia’s tragedy

From humble beginnings as a pulp mill in 1865, transforming into a rubber boots and tire business in 1898, and later emerging as the dominant force in handheld mobile phones; there’s no question that Nokia have an interested past.

After introducing the first ever handheld mobile in 1987, the company delivered cutting-edge mobile phone hardware technology again and again throughout the 90’s and for most of the 2000’s. Between the years 1996 and 2001, Nokia’s turnover increased almost fivefold from €6.5bn to a staggering €31bn. In 1998, they were considered the unchallenged world leader in the mobile phones market. Sadly, as with most who reach the top, they became complacent.

Something Nokia either never noticed, or failed to properly address was that the market was changing. Nokia had fantastic hardware, but their software was lacking in features and usability. People wanted a phone that could do more, that was sleek, stylish and above all functional. The dawn of the software-based, button-lacking Smartphone was almost upon the world.

Steve Jobs did notice the changing market needs, and he addressed them. When Jobs stepped out onto that stage in 2007 and pulled the first ever Apple iPhone out of his pocket, the mobile phone industry changed forever; leaving Nokia behind.

Don’t relax

Okay, so Nokia got lazy and failed to meet the changing needs of their product users which led to them being squeezed out of the market and replaced. Can bookmakers really use this tale as a template for them to avoid a similar fate? Yes, they can. First things first, they can’t relax.

British based bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill are currently unquestioned kings of the sports betting industry in the UK. They both have literally thousands of betting shops. However, there are several other betting agents around and they’re all hungry; they all want to steal their rival’s customers. Of course they do, that’s business 101.

Comparison of Nokia/Apple handset sales

• Nokia 1100 (250 million units)

• Nokia 3210 (160 million units)

• iPhone 3GS (35 million units)

• iPhone 4s (16.7 million units)

A particularly strong avenue of competition is the increasingly popular service of internet betting in the UK. When this arrived sports fans didn’t even need to leave the house to put a bet on their favorite team anymore; they just needed a computer.

Okay, so both these betting giants noticed this and offered their services over the internet. A move which gave them a slice of the action and due to their already strong reputation helped them dominate this sector of gambling too. This was smart. They avoided a Nokia situation and kept their services, and more importantly their brands, relevant.

As more internet gambling websites arrive, they will need to maintain a watchful eye and ensure their software stays ahead of the competition.

New forms of competition will pop-up

In the same vein as internet competitors, the mobile betting side of competition in the UK is a new front runner; it’s also quite apt to the whole Nokia thing we’ve went with in this article. Having instant access on mobile phones to gambling sites and apps is a major breakthrough, allowing operators’ services to be accessed virtually anywhere.

This form of gambling is currently taking the country by storm and continues to increase at a phenomenal rate. This is something bookies need to be totally aware of. Most bookmakers have now published apps that allow mobile users to enjoy the same gambling services they do in-store and online; the holy gambling trio.

As mobile phone technology improves and more updated services are released, bookmakers need to keep in mind that if the right service is released and works better on new devices, it could easily take off. They need to be the ones who have the best mobile sports-betting service around.

Helpful partnerships

Former CEO of Nokia has said that one of the main issues was the company’s pride. They refused to outsource, or create partnerships with others which would help them delve into unfamiliar territories. This was stupid. Joining forces with other companies that can benefit your own service is kind of necessary to stay current, unless your team has all the bases covered; often they don’t.

Gambling organizations simply don’t have the departments in place to create new payment platforms and additional features to their online services. So, they should outsource for a team that can create them. The case is often that something which would help them already exists and is available; they just have to snatch it up before someone else realizes the potential.

Operators of mobile services have recently been teaming up with software providers which allow the use of digital currency Bitcoin, in their arcade games. The virtual currency looks to be a big thing and online bookmakers should recognize this and act upon it. This is probably the most recent change to the online market.

Nokia now are a shell of their former selves, but there is hope on the horizon – maybe. The company was recently acquired by computing Goliath Microsoft, who wants to re-invent Nokia and make it profitable again. Under Microsoft, the company recently announced a line of smartphones set to hit the market, and with Microsoft’s software background it might just work. Maybe, just maybe, Nokia can rise proudly once again, this time as a phoenix from the ashes.

Online gambling service operators: pay attention, because if it could happen to Nokia it can happen to anyone.

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