Nokia Tightens Ovi Store for Developers, Consumers

Nokia acknowledges that its Ovi Store application marketplace could use a lot of work, but the company also says the platform has moved quickly in the five months it has been in existence.

LONDON -- Nokia acknowledges that its Ovi Store application marketplace could use a lot of work, but the company also says the platform has moved quickly in the five months it has been in existence.

Aapo Bovellan, director of developer platform marketing at Nokia, said he is aware of the various knocks against Ovi Store, even as the marketplace was launched at the end of May when the store was down for much of the time during its official launch day. And now months after the launch, users still express disappointment about things such as the quality of the search system on Ovi Store, as well as the availability of favorite applications on the platform.

"We realize there are many things we want to build and make better," Bovellan said. "But we know we will run into different obstacles."

"We are bullish about Ovi Store, but at the same time we are also humble and we look at what the customers are saying," said Srikanth Raju, director and head of Forum Nokia marketing as well as the Forum Nokia and developers communities, during a Nokia Media Day event here.

Nokia held its media event on the day prior to the opening of the Symbian Exchange and Exposition (SEE 2009) where Nokia and the Symbian Foundation will shed light on their developer strategies going forward.

Moreover, Raju noted that in the five months the Ovi Store has been open, the platform has apps for 100 devices, has reach into 180 countries, has apps in six languages, has developers from more than 65 countries developing applications and more than 500 new content items are approved for the Ovi Store each week.

"We are aware of what we need to do and we are working feverishly to address these things," Raju said.

"We've been improving across the board, like search for instance, we are making a lot of improvements there." Bovellan told eWEEK.

Indeed, although there have been murmurs of disappointment from a fraction of the consumer base about Ovi Store, "We're hearing a lot of positive things from publishers about the things they are seeing," said Bill Perry, senior services marketing manager for Forum Nokia.

"What's important for us is building up the foundation, not necessarily the number of apps or the number of downloads," Perry said as he declined to divulge either figure for Ovi Store.

Nokia officials said the Ovi Store launched with more than one thousand, if not "thousands" of applications and there are many more than that available now. "We have a healthy pipeline," Raju said.

He added that what Nokia has to offer is the muscle of its global market power to help developers get their applications out to market. "In the not too distant future we will no longer be playing catch-up; we'll be ahead of the game. We understand local developers and things that appeal to them and their audience. And you will see more of that as devices like our N900 gets launched in more regions," he said. "In a year's time we will no longer be talking about how to fix issues, we will set the bar," Raju added.

Meanwhile, Raju also made a point to emphasize that though Nokia is courting developers to create consumer applications for the Ovi Store, the company has not abandoned the enterprise or the enterprise developer. "Nokia's relationship with the enterprise and enterprise developers is strong, Raju said, noting recent announcements Nokia has made with Microsoft around Office and around its CRM technology.

"Developers are core to Nokia's strategy," he said. "In addition to creating best-of-breed devices and services, we need to be able to put irresistible solutions out there. I came from Sun Microsystems where I spent six years, and I live and die by the mantra Bill Joy made famous that innovation happens elsewhere. We have over four million developers in Forum Nokia."

Raju said Nokia is looking for applications in four major areas: Internet innovations, Flash, emerging markets and mobile necessities for them, and "apps on maps."

And Nokia has it all, including tools to simplify development with Qt and the Nokia Web Runtime (WRT). The company has a key platform to expand distribution in its Ovi Store. Nokia has a platform to create differentiation with its Ovi APIs, and it also has resources to raise customer awareness, he said.