August 29, 2007 |
Did you find it at all strange or perhaps a touch disappointing to find the world of cellular phone makers seemingly sitting around idly as Apple debuted it’s “revolutionary” mobile touch screen device back in late June? It was quite bizarre actually. There they were, about four or five big-name handset manufacturers – not to mention the creators of widely implemented mobile operating systems – none of which had anything close to an alluring answer to Cupertino’s finest new gadgetry.
Well, now one such mobile firm – which just so happens to be the largest in the industry – has, many weeks after the fact, finally decided to cease its own ogling of the most uber-cool multi-touch wonder of the moment and get to putting out something compelling of its own. And that doesn’t just go for hardware. No, it’s doing some things to make the new Nokia experience run full circle. Along with some fresh phone debuts, the company also very recently announced the imminent opening of a “web services portal” the Finnish giant is calling Ovi. (That means “door” in Helsinki, by the bye.)
What will Ovi consist of, you ask? Well, for one, the company’s revived it’s N-Gage division, which will develop in-house solutions as well as establish ties with mobile gaming firms for distribution of titles via the Web, all from one central hub. Mobile phone gaming isn’t the most talked about activity in the entertainment world, but there’s no denying that millions upon millions upon millions of phone users are in fact casual gamers. Nokia clearly wants to tap the true potential of the market, and if it does things right, it could very well dominate, just as it does currently in the hardware space.
Nokia’s also chosen to make a serious effort in making itself a contender in the mobile music arena. The company clearly sees Apple’s eventual intentions of bridging the iTunes-iPod-iPhone gap in order to make mobile downloads possible directly from the Web’s most popular music shop, and wants to make its own presence known before Cupertino has a chance at carving a majority share. It’ll be tough for Nokia to accomplish, what with Apple’s clear upper hand, but it’s nonetheless possible.
The biggest problem Nokia faces with over-the-air mobile downloads is this:
It’s no secret that the US is currently the largest venue for digital music distribution, but it’s also no secret that American mobile networks have the mobile media sector on lockdown. It’s extremely doubtful that any of the Big Four US carriers out there today would simply allow Nokia to establish base in the states. Therefore, the company has no option other than to debut its music store in Europe only starting in Q4 of 2007. That’s terribly disappointing for Americans like myself yearning for a reasonable number of consumer-friendly choices in the mobile sector, but until the FCC auctions off that prized 700MHz spectrum under what the public hopes to be strong “open”-minded stipulations, which presumably would force a cascade of marketwide change, Nokia will have to play its mobile music card only on the eastern side of the Atlantic.
Overall, it’s good to see Nokia fortify its position as a major player in the feature-rich mobile world. The industry one I personally wish does not get hit with the iPod treatment, in which Apple again becomes the company to set the bar in terms of product quality and public demand. If any mobile-centric entity today is to give Cupertino a run for its money, it’s Nokia.