Having mentioned Ovi in passing with Donna and Richard from WOMWorld at Whately’s Mobile Geeks meet-up this week (he’s uber-connected, don’ t ya know!) I’ve been thinking about it some more, having not looked at it since launch, and I have to say I’m confused. So this is an audience participation opportunity – please post your thoughts in the comments.
When announced, Nokia’s Ovi seemed to me to be an excellent idea… a suite of services that would add another ‘power of the cloud’ dimension to smart phones, whilst simultaneously giving the network operators a wake-up call. It consists, currently, of:
Nokia Maps – A mapping application with a pay-for routing capability.
Nokia Music – A straight-up iTunes music store competitor. The store is available via full browser or mobile device and music can be downloaded over-the-air or ‘side loaded’. Also provides a streaming option.
N-Gage – A mobile gaming platform with an online catalogue of games to buy and some social networking features.
Nokia Sync – An over-the-air sync utility between your phone and computer with the option to manage contacts and calendar data via the web.
However, beyond the Ovi launch page the entire effort seems disconnected and unfinished. There’s no single user-profile or identity between them and no interfaces between the applications. Share and Maps are probably the most mature, but Share still directs users to the Twango URL – the service Nokia acquired – and Maps still wears its beta tag prominently. Music is actively being marketed (see right – this was London’s Waterloo station) with free music codes being distributed and demo handsets, but whilst on the spec sheet there’s much to recommend it (it uses Microsoft’s DRM solution so supports other capacble devices and adds streaming and re-downloading options, which are missing from iTunes) it’s a Windows / IE-only affair at present and even the Nokia reps I spoke to couldn’t explain what it could and couldn’t play. N-Gage again looks promising with big-name games firms behind the platform, but is in ‘first access’ mode supporting only the N81 handset at present. Sync is not launched yet.
Certainly the individual services will mature, but what is the aim with Ovi? Will it be a just a catalogue of services or is it destined to become more integrated? Can they be usefully integrated? Will gaming consumers, for example, be interested in mapping? And just how is Nokia going to explain to what Ovi is when most of its sales are via network operators many of whom offer competing services already?
[UPDATE: This is obviously a very current concern as The Register reports today that T-Mobile in Germany are banning Ovi-capable handsets]
Another consideration is what’s not in Ovi: Widsets (Nokia’s widgets platform), Search (on-device and internet searching) and Mosh (a sort-of mobile content sharing social network thing…), Podcasting (a podcatcher / player) and Sports Tracker (a training diary with location features). Are these destined for the scrapheap or is it Ovi that’s been left behind?
- Nokia needs to get some focus quickly and deliver some of these products finished to the market – nothing here is ready for the Normob and so they’re not really contributing to the brand or sales.
- The difference between free and premium features needs to be made more consistent and a single billing relationship created for all applications.
- The Ovi brand needs some explanation or an early bath…
What do you think?
I’m going to take a hands-on look at the Ovi services over the next few months drop me a line at if you have any questions or suggestions you’d like included.