Nokia announced today that its much-anticipated online software and content store, Ovi Store, has launched on time and is now available across more than 50 Nokia devices. A statement from the world’s largest handset vendor said that customers in selected markets can update their devices with the Ovi Store mobile application by selecting the Ovi Store icon in the Download! folder on their device. The mobile client is available in English, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish and supports operator billing in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the UK. Although no mention was made of operator billing support in the US, Nokia did announce that AT&T plans to make Ovi Store available to its customers in the US later this year. Nokia’s forthcoming flagship device – the Nokia N97, touted for launch next month – will also support the store.
First unveiled at the GSMA Mobile World Congress last February and pegged for a May launch, Nokia’s Ovi Store is its attempt to follow the huge success of Apple’s App Store, which currently offers 40,000 apps and has recently hit the 1 billion download milestone. Nokia did not confirm recent reports suggesting its store is the biggest application store debut to date, with a reported catalogue of over 20,000 items, but did note that “thousands of the content industry’s biggest names along with independent application developers are distributing their media, applications and games through Ovi Store.” Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight, told Reuters that “Nokia’s Ovi Store is a step in the right direction but Apple is still the king of the hill when it comes to selling applications… Nokia is going to have to spend a small fortune on marketing to make consumers aware of what it is offering.” Global Crown analyst Tero Kuittinen issued a stronger warning: “Ovi Store is in some ways the last castle for Nokia; both N-Gage and ‘Comes with Music’ are industry laughing stocks.”