Developers are Nokia's path to emerging markets

Mobile maker is placing renewed focus on app creators, in hope that developer-centric strategy will drive its push into Asia's emerging markets, say top execs.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

HELSINKI--A developer-centric strategy will drive Nokia's push into Asia's emerging markets, according to top executives at the world's largest phone maker.

Mary McDowell, executive vice president and chief development officer at Nokia, said Tuesday during her keynote speech the company is placing renewed focus on the mobile app developer community, to answer the call for mobile apps from users in developing countries. Nokia already dominates developing markets with its basic phones, or feature-phone segment.

"The Web isn't just for rich people," McDowell said, adding that the company is interested in the 1 billion who do not yet possess mobile phones, in addition to the 4 billion who already do, globally.

She noted, however, that the Web will be brought to phones through apps installed on the client, not served through the cloud. "We are excited about the cloud, but we don't think it's the total story," she said.

The concept of the phone being a "glass" pane to cloud-based apps and content is not the path Nokia phones will take, McDowell added. "Intelligent devices are part of the ecosystem," she said.

The desire for phones to be made more personal will be realized through the myriad of apps users will assemble on their phones--a trend she expects will continue in mature markets and, if Nokia has its way, develop in emerging markets.

Stocking Ovi Store with local apps
Apps are increasingly localized for their intended markets, with app developers targeting local tastes as development proliferates, said Purnima Kochikar, vice president of Forum Nokia and the Nokia developer community.

In her keynote, Kochikar said "hyper local apps" made by local communities are beginning to sprout quickly to fit local needs. For example, puzzle games that are popular in India have become the focus for games companies such as Electronic Arts, in targeting the country's mobile sector, she noted. To that end, Nokia is focusing on making its devices more open to offer developers greater control over phones' native functions.

Kochikar admitted that Nokia's mobile app store, Ovi Store, needs to give developers more exposure, and the company is working on increasing the "visibility of good apps" available on the store.

She hopes this will encourage Symbian developers to join the buzz that has, for the past year or so, surrounded other mobile app stores. "People are enamored by success stories... We are going to start talking about our success stories," said Kochikar.

Victoria Ho reported from Nokia's The Way We Live Next 3.0 conference in Helsinki, Finland.

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