LIVE FROM NOKIA WORLD 2010: Nokia has talked-up the potential of Ovi Store to provide a sustainable revenue stream in an effort to woo developers, compared to the more competitive operating environment for developers creating apps for iOS and Android.
At this week’s Nokia World 2010 event, George Linardos, vice president of Product, Media at Nokia, noted the widely reported belief that, with many operating stores, the vast majority of revenue is shared among a small number of successful developers, stating: “that is not an opportunity to build a business: that’s an opportunity to play the lottery.”
Linardos used the word “momentum” as the theme of his presentation, claiming that that Ovi Store is now picking up pace – despite a wider industry perception that Android is the platform of the moment for both developers and consumers. He argues: “When I look at application stores, I don’t see a race where someone is going to win, someone is going to lose. There isn’t going to be a chequered flag moment.”
As has widely been reported, currently more than 2 million downloads are made from Ovi Store every day, with 85 percent of customers being repeat users of the store. But one area where Nokia did not provide metrics was the total number of apps in the store, possibly because this figure would compare badly with the 250,000+ of the App Store and the 80,000+ of Android Market. “I get asked, ‘how many apps do you have?’, and I don’t care. What matters isn’t that we have a bucket of applications, it is about having the right application for the right person at the right time. You would never go to a radio station and ask how many records they have in the vault,” Linardos says.
Charmaine Eggberry, senior vice president of Marketing GTM Operations at Nokia, also argued that absolute app numbers are not significant, and that the better metric is the number of devices in the market that can be used to buy products from Ovi Store. While many Nokia handsets currently used by customers have not had the Ovi Store client pre-installed, this is changing as customers buy new devices, creating a much greater potential customer base for developers – with the 85 percent repeat rate highlighted as an indication that once users become active, they remain regular Ovi Store users.
The international reach of Ovi Store was highlighted frequently, with localisation promoted as a significant benefit for developers. Nokia said that the store is available in 190 countries and 30 languages, with 90 percent of mobile customers served by local stores, creating the potential for apps to be delivered which reflect local trends or events. Nokia said that in-country managers can elevate apps in the listings to reflect specific market demands, for example as part of a promotion with operators or to support specific market interests.
In order to improve the experience for developers, Nokia also talked up the potential resulting from its recent acquisition of in-apps analytics company Motally. Rather than only being able to see how many apps have been downloaded, developers will be able to see how often applications are used, in order to gain a better understanding of the levels of user engagement achieved, so as to tweak applications to better meet the needs of customers. Nokia also plans to make additional information available, for example exposing details of unfulfilled searches to developers, in case a business opportunity is presented. Linardos noted that this “might not matter”, but the intention seems to be to provide developers with access to raw data, which can then be used however they see fit.
Highlighting the company’s efforts to support developers, Linardos notes: “Nokia is the leader; Nokia is the veteran. Nokia is doing things you may not have seen the benefits of. Yet.”
Ovi Store updates
Linardos also highlighted changes in the next generation of the Ovi Store, stating that the company has based its developments on real-world use cases – “we’re not just guessing at this.” He said that the store itself has “got out of the way, so the developer can have a relationship with customers,” with a new user interface replacing the existing carousel. According to Nokia’s own tests, in 80 percent of use cases the new store improves speed and multitasking within the shopping and browsing functions, also performing well against its competitors – “by competition I mean those guys…both of them,” Linardos notes.
While the new store is focused on Symbian OS and new smartphones using this platform, improvements to the application store for customers with devices using Nokia’s mass-market Series 40 platform were highlighted, supporting third party apps based on Java. Linardos said that “application stores are not just for people who go spend a lot of money on their devices, this is an opportunity for everyone,” and that the Series 40 store is “in many ways just as fast, just as high performance” as its Symbian OS counterpart. This was described as a “real, real innovation.”