Nokia is hard at work repositioning itself as a provider of Web services and applications built around its hardware offering, rather than being thought of as just a handset maker — albeit, the world’s number one handset maker.
At the center of its ambitious plans is Ovi, the company’s consumer facing Internet brand (see our previous coverage). Ovi’s tag line is “the key that unlocks every door” (Ovi means “door” in Finnish) and initially consists of a desktop and mobile Web portal that gives one-stop access to Nokia’s current Internet services: maps, music downloads, games and photo/video sharing. Eventually, Ovi may also act as a gateway to other, third-party, Web services, such as social networking sites or competing media sharing services (e.g. YouTube or Flickr). Right now, however, it appears that Nokia only plays nicely with the rest of the Web to the extent that Ovi supports RSS and offers a few Flash widgets, so that content uploaded to the service can be syndicated on blogs, social networking profiles or eBay, for example. Likewise, Ovi can pull in similarly syndicated content from external sites.
Ovi will come pre-installed on Nokia handsets, with revenue generated through related transactions: game subscriptions and sales of music and maps/city guides. All of which leaves Ovi open to accusations that it’s taking a ‘walled garden’ approach, similar to early desktop Web entrants such as AOL or the mobile carriers themselves. Instead of being “the key that unlocks every door”, Ovia, as it stands, feels more like the key to Nokia city.
In an interview with Telephonyonline, Bill Plummer, vice president of sales and go-to-market for Nokia Americas, appeared to take the walled garden accusation on the chin. Plummer says there are some similarities between Ovi and a walled garden approach, in the sense that the service is designed to make the mobile Web “manageable and consumable to the general populace”. However, Plummer prefers to frame Ovi as being more like MyYahoo or iGoogle: “I’ve stepped out of the walled garden, but I still need to make sense of the clutter.”
Comes With Music
During a keynote delivered at Billboard’s Mobile Entertainment Live, Nokia’s EVP of entertainment and communities, Tero Ojanpera, talked about the company’s all-you-can-eat music offering, ‘Comes With Music’, in which customers who buy a supported Nokia device will get a year of unlimited access to “millions of tracks”.
Ojanpera said that ‘Comes With Music’ is a real business for Nokia, and isn’t just about selling more handsets, according to mocoNews: “It has to be sustainable… There has to be money to be shared, and we will share with the partners involved.” Currently, Universal is the only major label to sign on, but as we’ve reported, Nokia is hopeful that others will soon be on board. “There have been a great interest from companies big and small. The discussions are going really well, and we hope to make more noise around the concept in the future”, says Ojanpera. To that end, Nokia is hard at work “finalizing the device range, and what markets we will launch, and we are supporting it with 10s of millions of dollars behind the marketing.”