Ovi Store Running Smoothly After Opening Day Glitches

Nokia's Ovi Store launched on May 26 to considerable media attention and a number of high-profile glitches. Those issues have been largely fixed, but Nokia still needs to attract developers and their mobile applications in order to ensure it can compete against the likes of Apple and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in the mobile-device space.

Nokia's Ovi Store found itself plagued with issues after launching worldwide on May 26, a fact Nokia blamed on a deluge of traffic from users looking to download applications for their mobile devices. By the second day, however, most of the issues seemed to have been ironed out, and Nokia defended its performance in a corporate blog posting.

"I think about the scale of what's just happened and think, maybe getting it absolutely right from the get go just isn't possible. At least not on that scale," a spokesperson wrote in a May 27 blog posting. "Yesterday didn't spell the end of the Ovi Store, as much as some doomsayers might suggest."

On its first day, the Ovi Store experienced downtime and slowdowns, along with applications disappearing and reappearing on its pages.

In response to the wave of complaints, Nokia posted an online apology.

"Shortly after launching the Ovi Store at 2 a.m. ET, we began experiencing extraordinarily high spikes of traffic that resulted in some performance issues for users accessing store.ovi.com and store.ovi.mobi," Nokia wrote in a May 26 statement. "We immediately began to address this issue by adding servers, which resulted in intermittent performance improvements."

"We apologize for any inconvenience," the company added.

At the Nokia Developer Summit 2009 in Monte Carlo, the company had announced that the store would launch with more than 1,000 applications ready for download onto some 50 Nokia mobile devices. Nokia officials at the time also stressed that developers would have ample opportunity to create applications for the platform with languages ranging from C and C++ to Java and Flash.

Nokia is apparently charging developers $50 to register an application for the store, although that fee is waived for developers who participate in the company's Champions or LaunchPad programs. Furthermore, Nokia will split the proceeds from application sales, with 70 percent going to the developers.

While the iPhone has received a lion's share of attention from media and the public, Nokia actually held the No. 1 position in smartphones worldwide in 2008, with 40.8 percent market share, followed by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion with 19.5 percent and Apple with 10.7 percent. HTC and Samsung held 4.3 and 4.2 percent market share, respectively.

For these companies, application stores represent a potential gold mine-both for them and the developers creating programs for their ecosystem.

For developers, "It's not unlike what happened with the personal computer market when it first opened up, and anyone who could write a line of code thought they were going to be rich," Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said in an interview.

While Apple has managed to carve a considerable niche with its App Store, Gottheil said, other companies such as Nokia and RIM "face a disadvantage in setting up an App Store-an App Store with nothing on its shelves is not very attractive, so there's a whole ecology that has to be set up."

"This is a considerable challenge, and making it work is not easily done," Gottheil added. "Nokia with a large install base has that chance, but you need to do the marketing for developers. They need active cultivation of a developer community."