How Nokia Ovi Store will trump Apple on global stage

How Nokia Ovi Store will trump Apple on global stage

Summary: It may not be the most high-profile announcement around, but Nokia's Ovi Store may affect millions more mobile phone users than Apple's App Store ever will, 25,000 apps be damned.At least that's the impression that I got last week after sitting down with Nokia's VP for Product Media, George Linardos, and company spokesman Chris Morse at ZDNet HQ to find out the intentions behind their latest product announcement, the Ovi Store one-stop app shop.

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TOPICS: Nokia, Apple
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It may not be the most high-profile announcement around, but Nokia's Ovi Store may affect millions more mobile phone users than Apple's App Store ever will, 25,000 apps be damned.

At least that's the impression that I got last week after sitting down with Nokia's VP for Product Media, George Linardos, and company spokesman Chris Morse at ZDNet HQ to find out the intentions behind their latest product announcement, the Ovi Store one-stop app shop.

To recap: Nokia's Ovi Store intends to "offer consumers relevant, targeted media through their social connections and their physical location information," according to the company. What that means is that Nokia's Adobe Flash-based content vehicle will distinguish itself by offering content based on your location and your contacts in your address book.

Tailored content by location

Taking a page from Google's playbook, Nokia will surface content within the Ovi Store based on those two specs of location and contacts. For example, Linardos showed me how an executive getting off the plane in, say, Barcelona would see apps offering local travel information (think Lonely Planet), local language translation, area movie times and other relevant topics based on where the user is standing.

(How specific will it be? Remains to be seen how smart the engine will be. I'd like to know if "New York City" is one big location, or if it gives me movie times in Harlem when I'm standing in SoHo.)

That's another distinguishing approach, by the way -- instead of simply downloading the apps you think you need (such as a Spanish to English translator), Nokia will surface them for you (but also gives you the option to fetch content yourself).

Tailored content via contacts

In addition to location-based parameters, Nokia's Ovi Store will also use your contacts list to offer you relevant content, under the presumption that the people in your address book are people that you actually like. So if your buddy downloaded the movie "I Love You, Man" to his Nokia phone, Ovi Store will surface that on your phone. It won't be naggy -- it will just replace what could be a house advertisement, or other general content.

While this seems cool, it will again depend on how smart the relevance engine is. (After all, do you really want your 14-year-old daughter's latest preferences to surface on your phone all the time?)

Come to think of it, Nokia's taking a page from Facebook, too.

Wooing the dev community

Linardos was frank about Ovi Store's value proposition: "This is a business for us," as in Nokia will make money from the project. But with 70 percent revenue share -- as in developers take home 70 percent of net revenue (less refunds and sales tax) -- Linardos said it can be lucrative for developers, too with consideration to how wide content will be distributed via Nokia's global reach.

In addition to paying by credit card, users in seven or eight countries will also have operator billing.

Beginning this month, content providers, developers and existing Forum Nokia developers can begin uploading their content at publish.ovi.com to be the first to distribute their media through the Ovi Store.

To date, Fox Mobile, EA Mobile, Glu, Myspace, Qik and Facebook have already signed up as partners. Naturally, much of the content quality of the service will depend on how useful announced partners will be, so keep an eye out.

Enterprise partners will be announced soon, Morse said.

Global vs. local: confronting Apple where it counts

In a previous post, I noted that Nokia's Ovi Store puts it at odds with the current face of mobile app stores, Apple. It turns out that Nokia's strategy is a bit more nuanced than simply going head-to-head with Jobs and Co.

As we all know, Apple's bread-and-butter market is the United States, and its App Store is wildly popular here. Similarly, Nokia remains the world's most popular mobile phone manufacturer, and is generally the default choice of the rest of the world. So while it would be a high-profile battle waged in the U.S. market, Nokia is using its global leverage to reach millions more people than Apple by simply addressing the rest of the world.

That's not to say that Nokia won't be focusing on the United States, of course. But using the company's global reach proves to be a far more lucrative move for the Ovi Store, eventually reaching hundreds of millions of handsets, from the upcoming (June) Nokia N97, the first device to come preloaded with the Ovi Store, to the 50 million or so existing Nokia Series 40 and S60 devices, which will be Ovi-capable starting in early May.

[Image Gallery: Nokia Ovi Store]

"This never started as jumping into a trend," Linardos said, adding that the Ovi Store was, in some ways, a consolidation of legacy services such as MOSH, Widsets and Download! "It's a major inflection point for us."

At launch, Ovi Store will be available worldwide in English and language-localized for the U.S., U.K., Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain and Russia.

Nokia's not going to fight Apple directly. By doing so, it just might win.

Topics: Nokia, Apple

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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6 comments
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  • Loada Rubbish

    "How Nokia Ovi Store will trump Apple on global stage" er, how exactly?

    "Nokia?s Ovi Store intends to ?offer consumers relevant, targeted media
    through their social connections and their physical location information,?
    .......... Nokia?s Adobe Flash-based content vehicle will .......... offering
    content based on your location and your contacts in your address book."

    Great. Good thing Apple didn't think of any of that..............


    Andrew Sheppard
  • apple leads, the rest follows

    as always.
    bannedfromzdnetagain
  • RE: How Nokia Ovi Store will trump Apple on global stage

    This story was a little fluffy for my liking. It lacked serious
    analysis. First, Nokia (and everyone else it seems), is latching
    on to the idea of an app store without thinking about why it
    has worked so well for Apple. I am an iphone developer, and
    their tools are powerful, flexible, easy to use (and will become
    stronger with OS3.0). Nokia's SDK does not match. Second, I
    only have to develop for one hardware platform (actually 30M
    of them) (iphone/itouch), with near identical screen resolution,
    buttons, hardware, sensors, synching, outputs, processing
    power, graphics etc. Third, the hardware platform itself is
    attractive for apps (large screen, touch, accelerometers, wifi
    and bluetooth, large memory etc etc). I know Nokia has phones
    that match all of these, but not many (and if I develop for just
    those Nokia phones then there is a smaller market than I have
    developing for Apple). Finally, the idea that Nokia trumps Apple
    in terms of worldwide spread is way overblown (you named 9
    countries versus the 80+ Apple has appstores in). I see Nokia
    is focusing on 'native' languages including English, Italian,
    German, Spanish and Russia. Let me see now - for a 'US-
    centric' company Apple seems to do just a tiny little better than
    Nokia. Anyone heard of the rare languages of French? Dutch?
    Portuguese? Japanese? Or Finnish (oops - Apple is better than
    Nokia in their backyard - maybe that's something a 'reporter'
    rather than a corporate mouthpiece would have researched and
    highlighted).

    I'm disappointed in CNET.
    hayneswilliamg@...
    • Re: 'fluffy' for your liking

      William,

      First things first: Ovi Store isn't out yet, and there's no way to be critical if I can't test it for myself. This is a preview of sorts; treat it as such.

      Second: I have asked Nokia to address your hardware concerns. I expect a reply shortly, and will post it here and above as necessary.

      Third: You're taking figures out of context. The nine countries named will have native-language Ovi Stores -- that doesn't mean only nine countries will have Ovi Stores.

      I've requested a hard number on how many countries will have Ovi Stores at launch. In the meantime, consider the following for a sense of scope: more than 100 nations are served by Nokia in some fashion; furthermore, Apple has sold about 17 million iPhones <a href="http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/03/17/apple_iphone_sales/">as of March 17th 2009</a>, whereas I quoted a figure of 50 million for Nokia above.

      And for the record, Apple launched its App Store in 62 countries.

      I'd like to address your concerns, and I plan to. But let's leave this "corporate mouthpiece" and "disappointed" language off the table unless it's justified.
      andrew.nusca
  • Why do all the smart phones try to look like an iPhone? [nt]

    [nt]
    olePigeon
  • Vaporware

    Nokia or even MS WiMO7 will have a difficult time recovering Market Share from Apple's platform. Apple is on their 3rd year with the current business model, and subscription based coming in 3.0. The competition has a lot of catch up to do. Although I do think, given Nokia's history will compete better than WiMO7 ever will.
    xXSpeedzXx