oviNokia’s much avaited application showcase the Ovi Store was launched today. The store contains both free and paid applications – “a mountain of mobile content” according to the the Nokia Conversations blog. The Ovi store is compatible with more than 50 Nokia devices, which the company believes gives them access to 50 million people.

Where’s The Ovi Application?

ovi-store-screenshotGiven the dominance that Nokia enjoys in the mobile handset marketplace, the Ovi Store would be expected to receive high footfalls (rather, eyeballs) than the iPhone App store. On visiting the Ovi Store website, it was suggested that I download the application: unfortunately, the application wasn’t available.

On visiting the Ovi store again, I couldn’t find a download link for the application. Usability hasn’t been one of Ovi’s stronger points. Perhaps one will have to wait for many of Nokia’s loyal users to replace their handsets, before the Ovi store really has an impact. Screencaps:

Some Ovi Store Apps

There are 1236 apps in all at the Ovi store, and navigation is, quite frankly, painful. The site is taking too long to load, perhaps unable to handle the first day traffic. If I wasn’t doing this story, I would have closed the browser window long ago. Navigation of the mobile site is slow too – Nokia really does need to get its act together – discovering content is difficult too.

A majority of the content available at the App store is paid, with one a few free applications. Paid content includes ringtones, mobile apps, games etc. Some content available at the Ovi Store:

— Media Companies: The Associated Press (AP) have free to read applications available for the Ovi Store. Disney has quite a few apps, particularly those related to Hannah Montana, up.
— Social Networks: There’s Hi5, which used to have a significant South Asian user base, Friendster, Buddycloud, location based social network Gypsii.
— City Guides: WorldMate 2009, Trapster and EarthComber. Videos from LoneyPlanet are free, but the guides are paid.
— Video: there Qik for video streaming
— Music: not much music content – Only some Star Trek related content, and 17 ringtones.
Hava from Noida based Monsoon Multimedia, which allows streaming of TV over multiple devices. An app for the mobile has been made available for free, but it still requires a purchase of the Hava device for streaming.

There aren’t any India focused applications. As we’ve mentioned before, the Ovi Store is expected to launch in India in the second half of the year.

Why The Ovi Store Is More Complicated Than The iPhone App Store

The Internet version of the Ovi store displays a number of handsets that the user has to navigate through, and the apps on the page get shuffled accordingly. There’s a reason for this – one issue that developers – particularly game developers – have always complained about, is the number of handsets that they have to rework their application or game for.

Nokia has a substantial number of handsets in the market, each has its own form factor and operating system. Consumers won’t exactly be pleased when a particular application isn’t available for theirs. That’s where the iPhone App store has an advantage, since it’s the same OS, and just one type of app. In that context, Nokia’s reach doesn’t quite appear to be the advantage one thought it was.

Are The Apps More Expensive At The Ovi Store?

I was wondering if products are being market up, by virtue of being on the Ovi Store. Take Gravity, among the best mobile Twitter clients which retails for around Rs. 497.91 if you buy it from the website. At the Ovi store, it is priced at EUR 10 – which is around Rs. 656.05 at the current exchange rate. That’s a 31.7% markup. So why should I buy this app from the Ovi Store? Note that we’re not sure if the markup is because Ovi is taking a cut, or the application developer has priced it higher.

Our Verdict: Very disappointing, whether it is the choice of content being made available, the online and mobile navigation or the usability.

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