Nokia’s Ovi Store, One Month On

As a self-confessed phone addict I was one of those who got up early on 26 May to be among the first to experience Nokia’s new Ovi Store. As it turned out I needn’t have bothered, as the launch gremlins conspired to create a series of problems for the service. Nokia’s PR company distributed the wrong URL for the store, its in-house servers (provided by Nokia Siemens Networks) failed to deal with the high demand and back-up servers didn’t come online as expected. I dread to think what would have happened if Nokia had to cope with the kind of demand Apple faced for iPhone 3.0 software recently. In the UK alone, more than half O2’s iPhone users downloaded the upgrade within the first 24 hours.

Unfortunately for Nokia, the problematic launch of Ovi Store meant a poor first impression for those at the front of the queue to try out the service, and led to a trail of negative reviews across blogs and news columns. I’m not sure these give a fair representation of what Ovi Store offers today.

As the picture below indicates, just a few hours after launch, people from all over the world were accessing the service. They’re concentrated in Nokia’s traditional stronghold in Europe, but the spread is impressive nevertheless. (Green dots are Web and WAP access, blue dots are access from phone clients, and red dots shows areas where both methods were used.)

Map showing Ovi download locations. Source: Nokia Source: Nokia

Nokia seems to have recovered from the launch-day wobbles and early indications suggest Ovi Store’s back on track, although the numbers involved are a fraction of the eye-watering figures that Apple’s achieving with its App Store.

Of course, direct comparisons are always going to be difficult. In my view, Nokia was overly ambitious to think it could simultaneously support 75 kinds of phone with various operating systems, five languages and many different network operators around the world.

A month after launch Nokia claims to have 3,500 items (applications or other downloads such as wallpapers) available for most of its phones. This is well below its initial target of 20,000, but the catalogue is still growing. Nokia claims the store’s adding about 100 applications a day from a developer network spanning 59 countries. It admits the signing process required for many applications has slowed down the expansion of its catalogue, but it reckons the current delay of about a week can be cut to 48 hours.

Unsurprisingly, the countries topping the download charts are in Nokia’s heartland (in alphabetical order, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK). But the US is also in the top five. This intrigues me, given the relatively small number of Nokia owners in North America. I wonder what this means for the total number of users Ovi Store worldwide. Right now it’s too early to draw meaningful conclusions about how many subscribers the Ovi Store has and Nokia’s keeping these numbers close to its chest.

Nokia has revealed a little more about the store’s performance in the UK. Here the most popular store categories are applications (72 percent of downloads), followed by games (12 percent) and personalisation (12 percent). Social networking applications, especially those for Facebook and Twitter, are also proving popular. Mobileways, the developers of Twitter client Gravity, will certainly be pleased to be riding high at the top of the paid-for application list. I’m still staggered that Nokia hasn’t developed its own Facebook and Twitter clients for the 50 million devices targeted by Ovi Store. I’d have thought it would’ve learnt from Apple and RIM, which between them had racked up almost 20 million downloads of Facebook applications when I last looked.

Here’s a list of the top five free and paid-for downloads up to the 15 June 2009. The Star Trek ringtone was heavily promoted by Nokia, ensuring it a place in the top five.

Top Five Ovi Store Downloads, June 2009

Top free items by volume

Top paid-for items by volumes

Top paid-for items by revenue

Star Trek Nokia ringtone

Digital Alarm Clock


SMS Preview


Digital Alarm Clock

Ovi Store application


Sensible Sudoku

The Journey

Zombie Infection


Flashlight for Nokia 5800


Marble Maze

Source: Nokia

The company’s obviously feeling a bit more confident about Ovi Store; it is has started buying sponsored links on Google and it’s promoting the store heavily to coincide with the launch of its flagship N97. I certainly can’t get excited about Ovi Store in the way I do about Apple’s App Store, but I’d be foolish to bet against Nokia. Like it or loathe it, there’s a certain inevitability to Ovi Store. With Nokia factories pumping out a million handsets a day, it won’t be long before there are a lot of devices out there with a preconfigured icon leading users to the store. Some owners are bound to click on it and, although it might take some time, usage of Ovi Store will keep on growing.