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Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NOK), Apple Inc. (AAPL): The Surprising Small Country That’s Dominating Mobile Video Games

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Mobile gaming is killing the traditional PC and game console markets. Traditional industry giants are scrambling to adapt to the new paradigm while a whole new industry blooms under their noses. And the new talent is coming from some unexpected places. Meet the ruling class The largest game revenue haul on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS devices in March came from relative newcomer Supercell’s Clash of Clans and Hay Day apps, according to app popularity tracker App Annie. Angry Birds developer Rovio ruled the monthly download chart in the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play app store for Android systems — and ranked second on the iOS download list. Mini-game and camera app maker Fingersoft came in fourth among Android downloads. What do these game publishers have in common? Well, they’re obviously red-hot, they were all founded in the past 10 years (and some much later than that) — and they’re all from Finland.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

The Finnish invasion of mobile gaming. Image created from official logos and a CIA Factbook flag.

That’s hardly the first country that rolls off the tongue when you’re looking for dominant gaming businesses. With just 5.4 million citizens, Finland is about the size of Minnesota. Yet this tiny nation crushed all comers in the mobile download and revenue sweepstakes, save for all-American veteran Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), which snagged the crown in the iOS app volume race. The revenue charts for Android games are swamped with Japanese and South Korean publishers, thanks to the local tendency to love gambling-style entertainment. Locally produced Android handsets seem to be the preferred platform for this experience, short of old-school pachinko machines. What’s the secret sauce? Can we pin this fantastic performance on the fact that Finnish company Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) ruled the mobile world in the first decade of widespread cell-phone use? While Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) clearly raised local interest in all things mobile and digital, I think the real reasons run far deeper. It’s the story of a well-governed nation that created the right environment for innovation and creativity. The sometimes unfortunate geographical situation, where southerly capital Helsinki sits on about the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, also seems to help in a strange manner. In a 2010 study, Newsweek rated Finland as the best country to live in. Quality of life and political freedom played a part, but Finland’s educational system was judged the best on the planet. It wasn’t even a close race, as second-place performer Canada’s score came in 5% lower. (The United States — 26th place, 15% behind Finland.)

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