Nokia held an event in London today where CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo announced a new integrated digital media approach. Except for four new mobile phones, the most interesting news was a Nokia music store, a Nokia N-Gage gaming site, and a web services portal called Ovi.
Innovation is tricky. But Nokia, like Apple, has a strong record of creating slick and smart devices with the potential to revolutionize the consumer electronics market.
By putting the simple game “Snake” on their phones long before anyone realized that mobile phones can be gaming devices, Nokia built the foundation of the N-Gage phones and web site that entered its next phase with today’s launch.
While N-Gage has not been a big scale success so far, Nokia is well positioned to capitalize on the growing interest in mobile games with a dominant market share of the global mobile phone market (the company ships one million phones a day).
According to Ovum, a London-based research firm, the mobile games market will reach sales of $4 billion this year and will more than double by 2010.
However, I like most the integrated approach that Nokia now seem to be taking.
"Ovi" is Finnish for "door" and it is the name of Nokia’s new Internet services. One integrated web site and mobile site will serve as a door to Nokia Music Store, Nokia Maps, and N-Gage games – as well as other Web and mobile services. During the fourth quarter of 2007 it will go live in English and in other languages in the first half of 2008.
Those services also include several Web 2.0 community platforms like WidSets, a Twitter-like application (for those of you who will be joining us for the Millennials Conference in New York on September 27, you will be able to hear more about these new services from HeGe Haggman, one of the innovators of Widsets and responsible for Comminity Platform development at Nokia Games).
With the background of last week's announcement that Real Rhapsody is hooking up with MTV and Verizon VCast to challenge iTunes, it is interesting to note the launch of Nokia Music Store across key European markets this fall, with additional stores in Europe and Asia opening over the coming months. Individual tracks will cost EUR 1.00 and albums from EUR 10.00, with a monthly subscription for PC streaming for EUR 10.00.
One way that Nokia’s music store differs from iTunes is a focus on local music and a monthly subscription service. In addition, the Nokia Music Store aims to provide more locally relevant music than any other digital music store. If you want to see what others are listening to, the Nokia Music Store provides a dynamic recommendations engine as well as genre-based instant playlists.
"The Nokia Music Store brings together a powerful combination of great music and great devices in an easy to use way. You can select from a huge range of music, including local music from your country, and download it directly to your Nokia device," said Tommi Mustonen, the head of Nokia's music activities. "You can choose between purchasing tracks a la carte via your Nokia device or computer, or you can stream an unlimited number of full length tracks to your computer. The unlimited streaming is a great way to discover new music and the integrated mobile and PC download service is a fantastic way to build a music collection that is always with you."
On the negative side, there is no word on when the Nokia Music Store will open in the US and it is only available on PCs not Macs (you can also do over-the-air downloads straight to the phone).
Alongside the introduction of Ovi, the door to Nokia's new Internet services, Nokia today unveiled four new mobile devices, ranging in price from 225 to 560 EUR, specifically optimized for entertainment, music and games and are expected to begin shipping later this year.