Nokia, the world's largest cell phone maker, is under assault as companies like Apple challenge it in the increasingly popular smartphone market.
The Finnish device maker says it's fighting back with its own cool phones and an Internet services platform called Ovi that will allow consumers to buy digital content, such as music and videos, get maps for navigation service, and manage contacts and photo files online.
The Ovi storefront is now up and running in eight countries: Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom. And as of May it was available on an estimated 50 million Nokia devices across more than 50 Nokia phone models, including the flagship Nokia N97.
In available countries, customers can access the Ovi Store by selecting the Ovi Store icon in the "Download" folder on their device. The mobile client is available in English, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
In May, Nokia said that AT&T plans to make Ovi Store available to its customers in the U.S. later this year. So far, it hasn't come yet.
CNET News recently sat down with Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president of services, to get the latest scoop on Ovi and to hear more about Nokia's services strategy. In a candid interview, Savander shared his thoughts on everything from lessons learned from Apple to why the Ovi store still isn't available on AT&T's network.
Q: Nokia has had a services business for a long time. But with all the hype around the iPhone and Apple's App Store, you'd think that Apple was the first to have an application storefront. What do you think about that?Savander: Actually, we had our own application store three years before Apple did. But I have to give Apple credit. They taught the industry a painful lesson. First, you need discoverability. The App Store is right there on the iPhone. It's not hidden in some menu. It's very prominent. Also the billing is done automatically through the iTunes account. Apple already knows who you are when you come to the App Store because you have to activate it through iTunes. And the third thing is that it is a very good implementation of an app store. And it works very well.
So are you saying that Nokia didn't do these things?Savander: We were falling short on all three. Take our download service. Every carrier had one, too, and the stores and the applications were not easy to discover. It was cumbersome to register. And the implementation was limited by the device software platforms. Believe me, I've had long discussions about this with my team. It's disappointing that we needed a company external from the industry to shake us off our comfortable path. The App Store came along and we had to accelerate our own plans.
I have to admit I wasn't really sure what Ovi was when Nokia first talked about it over a year ago. It seemed a bit confusing. Can you briefly explain what it is?Savander: There was a reason to go out with the Ovi story early, but in hindsight we probably went out too early. … Read more