Like many people in Europe, I am a fan of Nokia. However, by most accounts – Nokia’s launch of the Ovi store was not a success. Appstores are not easy to launch and many will fail. But Ovi is a grand, global vision – hatched over many months – and much is at stake. The overall sentiment is correct – that devices need services packaged with them else they will become commoditised. The iPhone has even demonstrated a revenue model for appstores.
If we take a step back, a complete application store needs at least the following criteria(source visionmobile)
1) A global marketplace
2) Centralised billing with a favourable revenue share for developers
3) Distribution(MVNOs, OEMs and offdeck)
4) Provisioning(licensing and software management) and
5) On device discovery
This is hard to do for an existing, global company like Nokia (and easier for new entrants like Apple and Palm to do – with an excellent device)
But even so .. I think there is something else at play here which is unique to Nokia ..
Nokia believes in ‘connecting people’. But does it ALWAYS need to connect people? I.e. add a social layer to content
Ovi, as it stands, is a mixture of three different things:
1) An all you can eat music store(comes with music)
2) An application store for developers(like the iPhone appstore) and
3) A recommendation engine(share on ovi)
This strategy mixes content and applications and adds the sharing on top.
Fine in principle .. Not easy in practise
Specifically, the ‘sharing’ is not easy to do and on top of it – the overall strategy of Ovi seems to be leaning to CONTENT sharing(which means APPS may not get a high leverage).
The iPhone on the other hand is a relatively simple service which comes with the promise of ‘Solving life’s little problems one app at a time’. There is no talk of connecting anything to anyone aka a social layer. There is ‘content’ but the appstore does not sell content and applications at the same time(this is important since the two have different audiences and different providers with varying motivations).
In addition, while we all LIKE to think that the mobile is a social device – it is NOT YET a true social device(in the sense that it is not easy to capture and share content and context with a social group through mobile devices). Ultimately this will happen but currently it is still not the case.
So, I think Ovi needs to realise that the ‘sharing’ is hard to do(but ultimately possible if enough people pick up new devices like N97). But there may not be a need to INITIALLY add a social layer(connecting people). If Ovi decides that it wants to be a content store or an application store and then focuses on the choice(and either is fine) – it will first provide a useful service to a specific customer segment(consumers of content or applications) and then as the device uptake happens – we can worry about sharing and the social layer
This sounds counter intuitive i.e. most people will say that the mobile is a social device etc etc – but the reality(in my view) is – its hard to capture and share context on mobile devices today.
I know ‘connecting people’ has a warm, fuzzy feel to it and works well with voice .. I am just saying it may not work well here at launch time.
Image source: http://phonereport.info/wp-content/uploads/575px-nokia_connecting_peoplesvg.png