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Nokia Ovi Store launch blows the doors off the mobile industry

At about 9am this morning, the virtual equivalent of the panic button was echoing throughout the Nokia Ovi Store network operations centre.

After a successful soft launch in Australia over the weekend, the press releases went out. The wires began to buzz. Twitter feeds began to chirp. Ovi store was live! Never mind that it’s a public soft launch. The legions of Nokia fans (and there are legions of them) couldn’t wait. They began to switch on and check out

Just as I did.

The first thing I saw this morning was a blank screen. 10 minutes later when I refreshed, I was presented with another blank screen and an error message.

Oh dear. Surely they planned for this?

They did.

Very smart people dressed in very serious suits spent a long time planning the launch, getting the right equipment and infrastructure in place ready to scale as required. But even they didn’t completely predict the scale of interest.

I’ve always held that it would only be after Ovi went live that the rest of the world would catch site of the 800lb Gorilla that is Ovi Store. Right now, roughly 50 million handsets are capable of running the Ovi Store. All things being equal and with a fair wind, upwards of 400 million users COULKD have Ovi installed on their handset in around 18 months. This is a company who is, on a bad day, knocking out a million handsets a day — with most soon to come with Ovi as a standard feature.

Suddenly it’s real.

Suddenly Silicon Valley and the rest of the planet is now faced with the reality that the Finnish Giant is set to become a major global player in mobile content and applications.

All of a sudden Apple although initially leading with numbers, has some more competition, particularly from a global viewpoint.

If you’ve any doubt about the scale of the interest in Ovi, let me take you back to 9am this morning at the Nokia Ovi network operations centre.

Sit back and think about the reality here.

Nokia tracked the rollout of users lighting up on an electronic world map. By 9am, most of Europe was covered in big green dots. Parts of Asia were already lighting up by 10am and by 11am North America, having already got the Twitter messages, woke up. The result being that the majority of the United States is covered in green.

Papua New Guinea is green.

Switzerland is green.

Ghana is green.

You can’t make out Lichtenstein because of the flipping great green dot on top of it — and it’s surrounded by the greenery of Europe.

Same with Fiji — it’s a massive green dot, so big, you can’t actually see the island.



Such is the interest for Ovi Store.

And no wonder the service crept to a halt in the early hours. Talking with the tech team there, they explained that capacity went flying past their 70% normality threshold almost the moment the launch announcement hit the wires. They rushed to spin up their backup infrastructure so that within 3 hours, full service was restored. I just checked in with them a few minutes ago and they’re now serving 15 times the traffic of this morning at 20% of the load. Nice.

Ovi Store registrations are flying off the charts with users from over 109 countries hammering the Ovi Store. I can’t get official numbers from Nokia at the moment, but I’m told things are going very well.

Who’d have thought it? Not me. I thought it would be well received by the Nokia geeks but not by the veritable legions.

It’s certainly rather annoying to have users hit the site and see a blank page for the first few hours of launch. But what I find more important is the sheer mass of interest.

The Nokia Ovi Store launch was always going to be an interesting blip in the mobile calendar this year. They are clearly interacting with users globally with Operator billing already live in some countries. I just wasn’t sure how big the blip was going to be.

I think it’s fair to say that, if the early interest (and pure excitement from many) is a guide, today marks a turning point of rather large proportions for Nokia.

It will be a few months before we’re able to really see the ramifications of this. I’m looking forward to getting a handle on just how many people begin using the service. I’m looking forward to properly trying it out (I’ve been refusing to play with the previous demos beyond having a little look, preferring to wait until it’s live). I’m looking forward to talking to the Ovi Store developers and launch partners, many of whom were sat nervously biting their nails.

I’m positively wetting myself at the prospect of being able to tell people, “Yeah, Gravity? Try it!” and know that all they need to do is visit (web/mobile web/application) and type the word ‘gravity’ and woosh, it’ll be downloading in seconds.

If you don’t quite buy the concept of a successful Nokia Ovi Store — if you found yourself loving the opportunity to kick Nokia as a result of the early access problems (and goodness knows I’ve liberally dispensed by direct opinion about Nokia here on Mobile Industry Review in the past), just take a look at this:

There are 17 comments — so far — for Gravity, one of the very best Symbian clients on the market. 13 of those comments are from today. The latest one was posted a minute ago.

Let me also point out that Nokia is tracking users hitting Ovi not just with high-end £800 handsets — but with mid-range feature handsets. This is simply fantastic!

Make no mistake. Ovi Store is here, with bells on.

There are millions of Nokia fans around the planet who’ve seen the iPhone, the Pre and the other offerings. They’ve weighed them. They’ve measured them. And they’ve found them wanting.

For years they’ve been studiously enjoying the seriously powerful operating system, the gorgeous cameras, the brilliantly engineered hardware and the array of super software (that does run in the background!). But they’ve been seriously missing a central repository that Nokia has now provided.

I have been one of the most outspoken critics of Nokia for quite a while — I will continue to be so whilst the UI is rather annoying and the high-end device range is somewhat uninspiring — but I firmly believe in recognising credit where it’s due.

The Ovi Store isn’t quite there yet. There’s still a few bugs and some unanswered questions but broadly speaking, I’d like to formally say:

Good work Nokia!

Regardless of the crazy coverage from earlier on today, I can’t wait to see what everyone makes of the Ovi Store.

If you’ve got an opinion on the Ovi Store that you’d like published, drop me a note. I’m


  1. I think the Ovi Store could be better, have better UI and overall usability. I mean, for example, you can see subcategories but they are hidden, lets say ''Personalization'' has a ''Themes'' subcategory, but it is not easy to find, you have to go all the way to the menu and select ''Categories'' while being on the main one, confusing. I also think that disregarding how big the response to the Ovi Store was supposed to be, Nokia should have prepared for the fudge factor I believe it is called, always double what you expect, and I am sure buying servers is not a problem for this giant.

    Now, something that is not Nokias fault, by why the 2.99us ringtones? It is just ridiculous, as other videos and cra* for 2.99?

    And another thing, the front page of the Ovi Store is as confusing as it gets, the logical thing is to have the categories listed, not the applications!

  2. I hope you are right, but my gut tells me after the initial (though clearly substantial) hype, Ovi will not turn into the powerhouse to challenge Apple that we all hope.

    I still believe that at the end of the day handset penetration is NOT the defining factor that translates to app sales (the iPhone being a case in point) but rather quality of device hardware and software.

    I guess the Ovi store is the perfect candidate to prove my opinion wrong, lets hope it is. It will surely make the already interesting mobile landscape far more so.

  3. I agree with you, it's the changing of the mobile landscape that's the key
    factor, Steve.
    Also this point: I was just reading a post on ZDNet about the Ovi Store.
    At the end of the post, a reader has commented that an application called
    Adaptxt is a brilliant free download. Finally you don't have to be a rocket
    scientist to go and 'discover' that app. Since I know it's name, I can type
    it into the Ovi store and woosh.. I can get it.

    YES there are a considerable amount of annoying UI 'features' — and the Ovi
    Store doesn't function in the beautiful frictionless manner we've come to
    expect from Apple, but it does do the job.

    I'm not sure on the hype vs reality point. Nokia users have, for YEARS,
    been crying out for some way of discovering new things (not just
    applications) to do with their phones. So for example, the ability to
    easily discover and download a ringtone, a video, a wallpaper and so on. I
    want to see how the 'great unwashed' — the normobs of this planet — react
    to the facility. Will they bend themselves around the slightly challenging
    Ovi UI? Or will they not bother? If they've put up with the Nokia UI, I
    think they might give Ovi Store the time of day.

    2009/5/26 Disqus <>

  4. “Will they bend themselves around the slightly challenging
    Ovi UI? Or will they not bother? If they've put up with the Nokia UI, I
    think they might give Ovi Store the time of day.”

    That's the problem in a nutshell. People won't bother because they won't use the challenging Ovi Ui on their mobile nor on their Windows or Mac or Linux computer.

  5. Ewan,

    Interest doesn’t necessarily mean success. I’ve been a Nokia user for years, and the can’t imagine life without my N95. My next buy will be the N97. I registered on Twango quite some time ago, and transitioned to Share with Ovi: yet my Share with Ovi registration initially wouldn’t work for the rest of the site.Nokia has updated the interface of Share With Ovi, and now I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how up embed my audio file on my site. I’m searching for an alternative.

    For all its features and tools, Nokia has failed where Google as succeeded – in providing a clean and easy to use user interface. Given a choice between the two, I’ll go with Google.

    I tried for three hours to experience the Ovi Store in its entirety, before writing about it – both on the web and the mobile. I had problems with both, and the experience while searching and viewing applications was anything but usable (and I’m not talking about just speed of access here, which accentuated the issue). When I compared prices for Gravity and the Ovi store, and Gravity at its own site – the latter was cheaper as well.

    First impressions matter, and I’m not quite sure about using the Ovi Store in the future. When it’s such a big launch, its important to get it right. Otherwise, it’ll remain inconsequential, much like that “Downloads” folder which I’ve accessed only once or twice.

  6. need a link to ovi store from here this is reporting down for maintenance and also need a link to the store from …

  7. Pretty dissapointing really. The UI & usability are antiquated and the registration is not working. I’d like to know at which level of management this was approved at before launch. Type ‘Ovi Store’ into Google and all you can see are accounts of the launch being a disaster.

    Not a good way to start our company’s transformation.

  8. I visited Ovi store when I saw a friend on Facebook tried it out, in a coffee shop in Beijing, when waiting somebody. I have to say it exceeded my expectation and I had a better experiene comparing to Ovi share. I downloaded and installed several applications for my 5800, using the WLAN in the coffee shop. It works and the UI on the mobile device is clear enough for me to get the job done.

  9. Same here. Impressive.I chose the “any phone” option after signing in with my OVI account. And immediately I had a “recommended for me” page with freebies I could download! It worked like a breeze.

  10. I have to say that I was disappointed at first, while browsing the Ovi Store through the browser of my N95, but that all changed when I downloaded the Ovi Store app to the phone. The user experience improved in a flash and the only thing is that is holding back the performance right now is the old and sluggish processor of the N95. I can’t wait to test it with the N97 or the N900?

  11. With such a market share around the globe there future looks bright for Ovi.

    Just to think – only 500 applications available during launch versus estimated 50 mil userbase – this is the gold rush right now

    We already port a number of our apps and have customers pinging us about doing it also

  12. It's very very Boar To Work with the Locked Mobile.I was used the Unlocking codes For My Nokia N95 8GB Unlocking.I was Unlocked it from the Vodafone Australia.I was Unlocked it the main reason the Network Not Provided the Good Service..So always Happy Is that to work with the Unlocking Mobile.

  13. Great to hear from the Ovi developers. Now I can ask you directly since you refuse to answer the emails of your Ovi Share customers. Why did you remove basic functionality without as much as an email to your users? Why have you now effectively entrapped my pictures, making your site so unusable I cannot even delete all of them? Why have you not told us that you have stopped investing in Ovi Share for the sake of developing Ovi Store, and why did you tell us 'basic functionality would return shortly' when this was clearly not the case? I will never buy Nokia again.


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