Nokia to stamp its authority on apps ecosystem with Ovi Store

First impact to come with heralded N8

Nokia to stamp its authority on apps ecosystem with Ovi Store
"The app space is very crowded and you have to stamp your personality on it."

It's fighting talk from Keith Varty, Nokia UK's so-called apps man (more formally, services and marketing manager) concerning the company's attitude to the now all-important battleground for mobile business.

When it comes to Ovi Store, Nokia's not looking to be the biggest (that's Apple's App Store) or the most open (that's Google's Android Market). Instead it wants to be the best, offering a curated selection of apps that work well on a wide range of supported devices.

Oh, and that also enable developers to make money.

"The Ovi Store and the N8 will be provide an excellent opportunity for monetisation for developers," stated Mark Loughran, Nokia's MD of the UK and Ireland.

He also reminded developers that 90 percent of Ovi users can access the store in their own language, and 80 percent can buy apps using their own currency. That's how the world's biggest mobile and smartphone manufacturer says it dominates globally but acts locally.

Pushing the volume

But back to apps; coincidentally an area in which Nokia's been playing catch up to those America upstarts.

There wasn't any massive news.

Nokia's still highlighting the '1.7 million apps daily downloaded from Ovi Store' figure that made headlines a couple of months ago. It's the same story with the 'on average, people are downloading eight pieces of content' stat.

Ovi Maps is up to 17 million downloads though, but there's not much thirdparty chatter yet about paid apps, let alone games, performing particularly well.

Still, apps were the predominant focus of the company's developer day, held in London.

"For developers, it's all about apps. It doesn't matter what technology is under it, whether it's Symbian, Maemo or MeeGo," reiterated Janaina Pilomia, of Forum Nokia, talking about how the company is easing the development process.

"We are simplifying things as much as possible. We have thought about the workflow for app developers from design to development and through to distribution on Ovi Store."

Nokia's getting cute

When it comes to the creation of native apps - the focus for Symbian and MeeGo devices - technically, this approach is unpinned by Nokia's Qt (pronounced 'cute') C++ based cross-platform development framework.

Used to develop desktop applications such as Skype and Google Earth, as well as software from the likes of Adobe, mobile operating systems such as Symbian^4 and MeeGo have been built using Qt.

As such all Nokia phones using these OSs will come with the technology embedded, as will the company's Symbian^3 range, starting with the N8. Older Symbian devices will be supported using a SmartInstaller that will grab the various libraries required to make Qt-developed apps work over the air.

Bottomline, developers who want to address the third of the smartphone market that is Nokia should be working on Qt. SDK, tools, tutorials and that good stuff are available via Forum Nokia.

Also available is Qt Quick, which is CSS-style tool so designers can create simple user interface apps without requiring coder support.

Ovi education

But apps without any demand are useless. In terms of the consumer awareness of apps, Keith Varty pointed to the success of NatWest's banking app in the UK.

"I think it was a game changer for big brands," Varty said.

"Since then we've been trying to educate the big brands about the opportunity for apps. We've probably spoken to around 100 brands over the past six months, and are already working with MTV, Tesco's Clubcard, LoveFilm, Nando's, and Evening Standard plus a whole load I can't yet talk about."

Taking its role to educate consumers seriously, Nokia has been advertising its Rapid Apps, on a weekly basis in the Metro and the Sun newspapers.

Based around topical events such as music festivals, the World Cup, summer holidays etc, Rapid Apps are simple widgets that - for example - list excuses to tell the boss so you can watch the footie, or respout the wisdom of Jose Mourinho.

Created with agency Marvelous and including Facebook Connect options, these are the sort of faddish, fun apps that get picked up by the media and potentially become viral successes.

The next one, Instant Wedding, will provide you with the words to get married to whoever and tell the world about it.

What comes next is more serious however.

Nokia kicks off three weeks of TV advertising for the Ovi Store in the UK on August 9. Then in September or October (no one's exactly sure), comes the launch of the Nokia N8: a device the company expects to massively increase Ovi Store activity.

And that's the point at which we'll see just how much authority Nokia's stamp has when it comes to apps. 
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.