Nokia today announced the opening of its long-awaited Ovi Store. In a press release, Nokia said its Ovi Store is available globally to an estimated 50 million Nokia device owners across more than 50 Nokia devices, including the forthcoming flagship device, the Nokia N97.
While the Ovi store is available on-deck with carriers in Australia, Singapore, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia Ireland and the United Kingdom, it will not be immediately available through any carrier in the United States. However, AT&T did announce that it will make the Ovi Store available to its customers later this year, putting the Ovi store in parallel competition with Apple’s App Store. For now users in the United States can access the store online or on their mobile devices via store.ovi.mobi.
Nokia has long been criticized for its reluctance to partner with U.S. carriers, preferring to release its devices and services internationally before bringing them to the United States. Many say this is the reason Nokia’s sales have fallen off in the United States over the past few years. This year, Nokia has vowed to change that model, working more closely with North American carriers.
Roger Entner, senior vice president of communications for Nielsen IAG, said it’s unfortunate that Nokia thus far has failed in communicating better with carriers in the United States but also expressed some hope that things will get better. “On the devices, they’re really upsetting AT&T by not launching at the same time in the United States, but the carriers have voiced their disappointment to [Nokia], and I think things will improve,” he said.
When asked about the Ovi Store opening, Entner was less than enthusiastic. He isn’t exactly wooed by the proliferation of application stores to begin with. In fact, he’s rather bemused by those rushing to duplicate Apple’s success. Entner said the App Store is so fundamentally different than anything else on the market that it will be next to impossible to duplicate.
“I think the expectations for app stores are a lot of wishful thinking. Apple’s App Store is an app store that’s made for one SKU, and it’s an app store for a device that the developer is madly in love with,” Entner said.
Not only are the quality of the apps at the App Store superior to anything else on the market, but the prices are better, too, he said. “Compare prices between an iPhone app and the identical app from another carrier or store. You will find in general that the iPhone app is way better and costs way less. No wonder it’s selling. If I have the choice between a so-so implementation for 6 bucks and a beautifully executed app for 3 bucks, which do you think I’d choose?”
Entner said the case of app stores is one where people take a specific example and generalize it. “Just because Einstein was able to come up with a theory of relativity doesn’t mean that the rest of us are going to be able to do so,” he said.
Early morning reviews of the Ovi store could be proving Entner right. A report from TechCrunch.com called the opening a “complete disaster.” In fact, the site operated so poorly that it prompted a public statement from the Ovi team that apologized for disruptions due to “extraordinarily high spikes of traffic that resulted in some performance issues for users accessing store.ovi.com. and store.ovi.mobi.”