Today the Ovi App Store goes live. (at the time I’m writing this, the web site is down – was up earlier, but is down now…)
More than 50 Nokia devices are compatible with the service from day one, with stacks more slated to roll out over time – Nokia estimates that around 50 million people with Nokia devices will be able to benefit from Ovi Store right now.
Considering there’s around 35 million iTunes App Store-compatible devices out there, that’s not a terribly bold statement. I’m vaguely annoyed that OVI doesn’t work with my Nokia N800 (due to the Maemo platform) but that’s not the end of the world.
App Stores are pretty big in the news. It was only last week that Microsoft backtracked on their ‘sharing apps’ statement so there’s no “Welcome to the Social” in the Windows Mobile Skymarket and their plans to use the Live ID as the method of tracking installations on up to 5 mobile devices. This puts it on a par with Apple’s iTunes App Store terms – up to five devices – though on an iPhone, you can ‘loan’ someone an app by temporarily logging into your iTunes account on their iPhone.
I’ve now witnessed the Ovi Store, the iTunes AppStore and RIM’s AppWorld first hand and frankly I’m not impressed with the competition.
Tarmo Virki, of ITnews.com.au reckons there will be few victors in the ‘me too’ race to have an App Store for mobiles.
“There are too many people investing too much money into something they do not understand,” said John Strand, chief executive of Strand Consult. “They are all using the me-too strategy, not focusing on consumers – these guys don’t read numbers, they read media.”
“They are all desperately following but they are chasing it with all their own legacy issues,” Frank Meehan, chief executive of INQ Mobile, the maker of Facebook- and Skype phones, said at the Reuters Global Technology summit in Paris. “An App Store will get a customer to buy your phone only if it’s better than Apple’s,”
It’s going to be a big battle between equipment makers and operators,” said Alex Bloom, chief executive of mobile software distributor Handango. “It’s an interesting battle as carriers are equipment makers’ biggest customers.”
France Telecom Chief Financial Officer Gervais Pellissier said operators have an advantage in the race as they control the customer billing process and can make the application purchase procedure much smoother for customers.
Frankly I reckon there’s going to be a battlefield littered with corpses and adoption of these other stores is going to be an uphill battle. Apple has 40 000 apps in their AppStore – all of which work on the 35 million iPhones and iPod touch devices out there. RIM has around 1000 in AppWorld and OVI claims 666 items for the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and 1007 for the Nokia N95 8GB and nothing at all for the Nokia E65. Even looking at OVI on the web, you can see the icon and price and general rating for an app, but there’s no screenshots and certainly no video. Folk have criticised the iTunes App Store for not having a demo mode or hosting videos of the interaction – but OVI hasn’t learned from this.
The problem here is the lack of unified approach, lack of vision and far too much consideration of ‘me too’ and getting something out there and I think the Palm Pre, though enticing and very pretty, will suffer the same. Apps on the Pre are web-apps and it will, I predict, be harder to get people to pay for these apps especially when you’re limited to the sort of apps that a web app can manage.
“In a desktop app is I can add 100% of the web. But the web can only add like 10% of the desktop.” – Daniel Jalkut, Twitterer and Mac Dev
and this also goes for Mobile. Would you have been able to create Crash Bandicoot on the Pre? Or the Blackberry? Or play it on the disastrously specced Nokia N96?
The AppStore Wars are just beginning but there are some clear winners and losers from the outset.