Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ovi store fizzles

Catching up on blogging.

On Tuesday, Nokia launched its Ovi Store to sell applications for S60 handsets. The store has direct operator billing in Europe, Russia, Singapore and Australia. Support for Ovi in the US (via AT&T) is due later this year.

Apparently the website was sluggish and hard to navigate (according to Symbian Watch and TechCrunch). The Register in the UK has been particularly merciless in pillorying the European cellphone giant. Writing on Wednesday:

Ovi is Nokia's answer to Apple's iTunes, offering a broader range of content to a broader range of handsets - or at least it would if it could stay up for more than five minutes and operated at a sensible speed when it was available
On Friday, longtime Psion and Symbian fan Andrew Orlowski wrote:
It must be frustrating to sketch out a long-term technology roadmap in great depth, and see it come to fruition... only to goof on your own execution. But to do so repeatedly - as Nokia has - points to something seriously wrong.

The launch was "an utter disaster" according to one blogger, or in a more measured assessment (from Ewan at All About Symbian), "rushed, early and not fit for public consumption". Nokia accepts second-best from Ovi, which apart from Maps is second-best in every category, the company all but admitted recently. But the Ovi application store deserves a Z-grade.

It's now clear that it was simply too ambitious to roll out a store to so many territories and in particular, to so many device categories, in one Big Bang. The number of devices supported goes back six years - encompassing eight versions of Series 40 and three versions of S60.
Nokia is a company that sells more phones than anyone, manages high volume logistics, works with nearly every carrier in the world, designs complex infrastructure and fancies itself a services company rather than a mere maker of handsets. It is a complex operation, with 125,000 employees and revenues of $71 billion.

You would think that it would be a top priority to roll out its main consumer portal against rivals like RIM, Apple, Microsoft and Google. Shouldn’t a company with this sort of scale know whether or not its portal is going to work before it launches?

These sort of systems are hard to build. Perhaps Nokia should take a hint from Google and release everything as “beta” for a few years so that it can disclaim any responsibility for reliability or responsiveness.

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