LONDON – As incoming Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said as he addressed developers at the Nokia World 2010 show here, developers are central to the success of Nokia going forward.
With that in mind, Nokia announced several initiatives and major improvements in developer tools making it simpler, easier and more lucrative for people to build innovative apps. For instance, the company made significant enhancements to the Nokia Qt SDK (Software Development Kit) resulting in a 70 percent reduction in the number of lines of code required when developing for the company’s family of Symbian smartphones.
In addition, Purnima Kochikar, vice president of Nokia Forum, the company’s developer outreach arm, said Nokia has delivered improvements in the Ovi Store user experience including a new look and feel, making it faster and making apps easier to find.
Kochikar also said Nokia has lowered the barrier of entry and increased monetization opportunities for developers, including free Java and Symbian signing, in-app purchase, improved revenue share and advanced developer analytics.
“Our announcements will certainly bring more great apps to Nokia products, especially our new family of Symbian smartphones announced today,” Kochikar said. “We have made it much simpler, removed obstacles and made it more lucrative for people to build apps for our phones. We believe that this will convince more developers to build apps for the millions of people, in more than 190 countries that are using the Ovi Store on their Nokia devices.”
For instance, today, developers can distribute apps to approximately 175 million Nokia Symbian smartphones — the largest smartphone user base in the world. Qt is preinstalled on all new Nokia smartphones and downloadable to millions of smartphones people are already using. Using the Nokia Qt SDK to build their apps, developers will discover a complete, easy-to-use tool that brings a shortened workflow, simplified development and intuitive UI libraries resulting in 70 percent fewer lines of code, cutting creation time dramatically.
New opportunities for developers will include in-app purchase, enabling a wide range of app pricing options in Ovi Store such as subscription models, micro-transactions or “try and buy.” This means if people enjoy the free version of the app, they can easily upgrade to the paid version. It also allows developers to build added value into their apps such as the sale of virtual goods, additional levels for games, or enhanced or localized in-app features.
Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio, the company behind one of the world’s most popular mobile games, Angry Birds, appeared at the conference and said he is pleased to bring the game to Nokia devices. Speaking about the new in-app purchase feature in Ovi Store, Hed said, “We now have an elegant mechanism for providing premium content within games, like Angry Birds, in a way that doesn’t interrupt people playing the game.”
With the Nokia Qt SDK, developers can also future-proof their app by easily adapting them to run on future mobile platforms such as MeeGo, while taking advantage of any additional features or APIs those platforms bring.
Moreover, Nokia will focus on making developers more money by leveraging the largest operator billing footprint available and greatly improving the operator revenue share for payments made after Oct. 1. Nokia has also removed the time-consuming and costly step of app signing. With one click, Java and Symbian apps signing is complete.
Nokia’s acquisition of Motally provides rich in-app analytics for developers and publishers to better track, report and monetize their content; these capabilities will be extended to Qt, Symbian, MeeGo and Java platforms.
The reach of Ovi Store provides opportunities for developers with an active user base in more than 190 countries and strong local relationships with 91 of the world’s top operators. More than 50 publishers have seen more than 1 million downloads each, with some – like Offscreen – reaching more than 43 million downloads.
“Fizwoz was launched as a Qt-based app at the beginning of the year and featured in the top 10 Ovi Store apps for the Nokia N900 for just a week,” said Andy Sheldon, CEO of Fizwoz. “During that time, it received over 9,000 downloads from 91 countries, and when we put it on Symbian smartphones in early May our numbers on Nokia shot up. We now have almost 41,000 people using it in 167 countries and add 200-300 new people every day. In fact, it took just two months for Nokia to catch up with our user number on a big competitor’s app store with a predominantly U.S. distribution footprint. Nokia is truly worldwide.”
Meanwhile, in addition to the refinements with the Nokia Qt SDK for smartphones and mobile computers, Nokia also announced an SDK for Series 40 Touch and Type – the industry’s first touch SDK for mobile phones.
Last year, Nokia shipped 364 million mobile phones – around one million devices every day. The new Series 40 Touch and Type SDK brings the benefit of a touch interface to a new global audience. The SDK, available for download from forum.nokia.com, will make development for these devices extremely simple and allows easy porting of existing apps created for current Nokia smartphones.