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Nokia's "app gap" ad misses one key point

At the beginning of the month, I passed along an article citing that Acer was not going to be rejoining the Windows Phone segment for the foreseeable future due to overall market share. What stuck out to me was a quote from Allen Burnes, VP of Europe, Middle East and Asia for Acer’s smartphone division.  Specifically he was talking about local banking apps, and so I focused on my own little app gap research.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in the grand scheme, the app gap is as bad as some folks make it out to be, but that is really related to personal entertainment and social networking.  Let's be honest, the Windows Phone application catalog is not as robust as what can be found for iOS and Android, especially when it comes to banking, and that issue is a huge thorn in the side of Windows Phone.

The top ten banks in the US hold about 46% of the market share by depositors. Of the top ten, only three have dedicated apps for Windows Phone, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase. The other seven on the list, Citibank, US Bank, PNC Bank, Capital One, TD Bank, BB&T, and SunTrust Bank all offer at least an iOS compatible app, many support Android and some even offer BlackBerry compatible apps.

That is a big deal, and frankly I am a bit amazed that Microsoft has not done everything, up to and including developing applications itself or creating a clearinghouse dedicated to bringing such applications to bear in cooperation with these institutions. When you consider the top five banks alone hold over $8 trillion in assets and $4.5 trillion in deposits, it represents a distinct market, pretty much everyone and how they manage, deposit and access their money. Money.

The trend of Windows Phone support, or lack thereof, continues down the list of major banks in the US. I didn’t look too much at Europe because I knew deep down it was probably the same. Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany has an app for Windows Phone, but number two, Commerzbank does not. Lloyds Banking and HSBC in the UK? No such luck.

Customers for life

Meet the most prominent banks with apps for Windows Phone

Meet the most prominent banks with apps for Windows Phone

I won’t speak as a consumer in Europe, but in the United States, banks are like luggage. Once someone puts their money there, it tends to stay there. It is not unusual for someone to open their first savings account as a kid and keep that account their whole life.

Consider USAA.  This bank started serving, and continues to serve members of the military, their families and dependents. The customer base is fiercely loyal.  Exactly a year ago, USAA pulled its official Windows Phone app prompting a somewhat small, but vocal response of displeasure from its customers.  Last December, USAA took the wraps off a brand new app for Windows Phone.

Let’s pretend for a moment that USAA did not do that though. Over whatever time measurement you want, do you think the customers would have left USAA due to no Windows Phone app, or left Windows Phone to get mobile service on iOS or Android? It is a no-brainer of an answer and thank goodness USAA did not put that decision on its customers for the long term.

The same holds true for members of credit unions. For those that do not know what a credit union is, it is generally smaller, more localized, and not run for profit. Savings accounts are called “share accounts” because instead of “loaning” to the institution (the way an account works for a bank), you are basically buying ownership in the credit union. Because of their size, credit unions have even fewer mobile choices.

More than half of US depositors have spread their service demands across more than 300 separate banks, not including credit unions, and it makes up a deposit base that is bigger than the GDP of any other country.

Here is a wide gap

I randomly picked a “smaller” bank from a list of the top 300 banks in the US (with “only” $6 billion in deposits), #128 on the list is Old National Bank. Guess which mobile environments are supported. Then I went to #197, Centennial Bank based in Conway, Arkansas. Guess which mobile environments are supported. #220, Sandy Spring Bank in Olney, Maryland. Guess which mobile environments are supported. Finally, I picked #289, Old Second National Bank in Aurora, Illinois. Guess which mobile environments are supported.

It is not a stretch to say that most, if not all, of these banks did not hire a team of their own developers to build their own app. They contract with industry service companies that specialize in information processing for banks and other financial institutions, and that is what most of these iOS and Android apps for these smaller banks seem to be.  In the Windows Phone store, the banks that have an app for Windows Phone were all published by that bank.

Capital One's banking app incorporates pattern lock as a security feature

Capital One's banking app incorporates pattern lock as a security feature

Apps are not just about apps

If Microsoft and Nokia are serious about really closing the app gap, getting the banks on board is a cornerstone that cannot be ignored. Yes, I know there are other “important” apps that are obscure to the mainstream, but important for that niche customer that can find their favorite basket weaving app. In fact, it can be argued that just about any app is utterly useless until it is needed and used by an individual. Then, the ability to add that app to a person’s smartphone expands the functionality of that device.  That makes the device more useful and becomes a hook into that customer keeping that device, or at least staying with that operating platform.

So, while Nokia’s “app gap” ad is reassuring, and correct to a point, the fact that a consumer can use Instagram on whatever phone they want, but cannot pay bills, make deposits or handle their personal finances, indeed, the decision process becomes simpler. While mobile web-pages work just fine, we know that model does not withstand marketing scrutiny or reality.

Follow the money

The market model supports the idea that customers who feel they have access to their money and financial positions feel more in control, more secure.  Nothing is more mainstream than money.  If you are going to capture and entice customers, you need to follow the money.  If you are going to follow the money, you got to look at banks.  Banks have money. 

references: The Finance BuffThe Wall Street Journal and relbanks.com

  • Options

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:10 10

1. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

I could be wrong but I thought bulk of wp sales were pay an go type phones like the 520…?
If so, I'd hardly be worried about making a app for them. No of fence, just saying.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:56 3

11. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Why should they care what type of device is being used?

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 01:14 9

15. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 1236; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)

what he's trying to say why make a banking app for a platform that is mostly filled with a phone for a cheap consumer that doesn't want to spend alot !
key word here is spend!

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 07:07 1

31. Finalflash (Posts: 3527; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

Then those phones better make their lives easier but if it doesn't then you lose them as well. They are the pioneers for your side, to say screw them isn't a good business strategy. for that matter It is the poorer group that wants more control of their finances usually because the rich don't need to care. So the market that needs it must does not have it.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:38 1

35. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

Bang on.
Pay an go type clients have no credit usually.

To the other below..
Do tell what bank wants to save you money on their services?
Its better for banks to nickel an dime you on minor services such as ATM, transfers etc.. They're not in it to benefit you, ever.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:40

36. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Are you saying that he's saying they don't want to make a banking app for people who would not have as much money as others, and wouldn't make bigger, or as many, purchases?....
What?.... Give the dude some amount of credit.. Nobody would say, or suggests, something that stupid.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 09:12 1

47. tadaa (Posts: 267; Member since: 18 Apr 2013)

Dude has a point, its logical and no, it is not stupid. I'd tell you phones like these sell by the boatload on developing countries and people, like from my place, would rather use cash than credit.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 15:20

53. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

That is not a good point at all..

posted on 19 Mar 2014, 21:49

61. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

it sucks, true, but that is what business do, nowadays...frack the banks..lol

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 01:31 1

18. sgodsell (Posts: 4855; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)

Well considering that the majority of models from Nokia are WVGA (800x480). The 520 just happens to have that size of a display. Like the 525, 620, 625, 720, 810, 820. Not to mention all the WP7 WVGA devices.

posted on 02 May 2014, 13:25

64. NOLATechy (Posts: 17; Member since: 08 Nov 2013)

Are you kidding or just stupid!? The bulk of the sales of Windows Phones are not the lower 520. The newer sales are that of the 920, 925, 1020, 1520, Icon an soon the 930, 630 and 635. These phones are NOT cheap!

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:17 1

2. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)

This is quite a good point, however the plus side to being with a local bank or credit union (as I am), one can request an app for the mobile ecosystem and possibly have it built. When WP 7.5 launched I asked my credit union to build a compatible app, and by the time they were ready to launch it, they were releasing it for 7.8, but thankfully produced a follow-up app with WP8. It's their best-rated app from the four major mobile systems, and several local WP enthusiasts have switched to that CU because if the positive response and functionality if the app.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:21 13

3. alterecho (Posts: 1099; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

Spot on article.

"If Microsoft and Nokia are serious about really closing the app gap"
Its upto Nokia. Microsoft doesn't care for its customers. They hold out extremely important updates to fullfill their own business ambitions first.
They bank on the WP trolls to heap praise and fool others into believing that the OS is good.

Even if there was no app gap, the core OS itself is horrible. I really wonder who is responsible for the design of Windows Phone.

The apps that are there has the same monotonous design of the OS. Sometimes when i try to get away from the monotonous design, by opening a new app, i'm greeted by that same design and that long (but smooth) animation.

"some even offer BlackBerry compatible apps."
Then why isn't Blackberry featured in this site's monthly apps list?
One possible reason - Microsoft marketing has convinced everyone that Windows Phone is the 3rd OS of choice, when its not.
Microsoft doesn't take its users seriously... How they ditched its Windows Phone 7 users, like we were some target practice.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:50 10

5. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3689; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)

The ui itself is offending.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 01:17 7

17. alterecho (Posts: 1099; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

Its a bipolar UI.
Some like it, some don't.
I liked it...initially.
Then, after prolonged usage, i wanted it to go away.
Its like you're trapped in a box.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 02:19 4

20. timukh (Posts: 295; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

If it is so offending then why is every other company copying it?

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 05:47 7

26. lyndon420 (Posts: 5000; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)

Please name these companies :-)

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 06:08 3

28. timukh (Posts: 295; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

umm for starters have u not seen the magazine ux of samsung and htc's blink feed??

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 06:37 4

30. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

You mean the UIs that HTC made removable due to poor customer response, and that Google specifically requested Samsung back off of?

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:06 2

33. timukh (Posts: 295; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

But they are still there right? HTC is still supporting the UI and samsung just shipped their all latest tablets with that UI! Look I am a nexus 4 user. But I dont see any reason to bash wp's UI! It would have really sucked if all the phones and tablets in the world looked exactly like the same with the exact same UI (icons)! Why is it so bad that someone is trying to do it differently? Anyway that is a personal opinion. But frankly I dont see any reason at all to bash wp's UI and I am glad that we have choices..

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 20:44

58. hurrycanger (Posts: 1625; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)

Huawei and...
... Nokia.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:42

37. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Then why does he keep buying new devices?

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 15:21

54. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


posted on 11 Mar 2014, 16:48

56. TheGenius (Posts: 339; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)

Companies are offering them so that consumers can use them and realise how boring it is and since they'll have android they can customise it to their own preferences. . Not like wp where they are stuck.!

Mind you .. I myself switch to launcher 8 every 2-3 months because it gives a fresh feel .. and then change it back to stock or nova after a week or two because I get Bored.!

posted on 12 Mar 2014, 00:37

59. timukh (Posts: 295; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

Android 4.1 was released in July 2012. Since then there has been hardly any "visible" changes in the OS. Most of them were under the hood ones! Its been almost 2 years and we still see phones releasing with android 4.1 or 4.2! So its not that only MS is slow. Every company takes time to build a software. I am a developer myself and I know that very well!

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 00:54 1

7. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

Explain why you keep buying WP devices!!

What's your next device going to be??

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 01:16 15

16. alterecho (Posts: 1099; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

I commited two mistakes.
1st - Samsung WP7:
-I was impressed by the smoothness, animations and the uniqueness.

2nd - Nokia WP8:
-Because of Nokia.
-Believed the slanders of WP fans, that the OS is fixed, compared to WP7.

I put it in points, since you don't seem to understand the several times i've explained before. Just like you don't seem to understand how Microsoft is using you.

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:45 4

38. dratomic (Posts: 483; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)

haha. you rock dude

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 08:48 2

40. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3576; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)

And, what's going to be your third excuse? Because Rodneyej talked you into it?... Please... Get real and quit your age old complaining... Have you considered Android?.. Quit complaining about your phone and do something about it! What are you going to do about it? What's your plan?.......

Yeah, you don't have one... Just whining, complaining, bashing, and worst of all trolling... When will you ever grow up and take responsibility?
I can't believe that you actually had the nerve to say that its WP fans that keep convincing you to keep buying WP devices.. Lol!.. You lost all credibility when you said that, and anyone who sides with you has got to be a ignorant troll..

posted on 11 Mar 2014, 04:01 4

22. Altair (Posts: 367; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)

Troll spotted

Windows Phone OS is better and modern. All these "another row of icons, invented back in -90" can't be even comparedto WP. For example Android itself, it is just a stolen product. Now your little troll answer comes from brainwshed head saying: "it can be customized!" Yeah right, but it is not stock android anymore. Its just another row of icons modified by other ideas.

WP is the one moving forward, while copycats follows.

What comes to APP s, there are more than enough of them. I have like 40 apps installed in my Excellent Lumia 920, and I only really need 5-7 of them in daily basis.

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