At this year’s Mobile World Congress Nokia wasn’t present with a booth at the Fira. Instead, it propped up its tent a few hundred meters away, making its own little version of Nokia World – Nokia’s biggest event of the year. This is why most attendees expected a major announcement with either a new flagship device or a stunning successor. However, as Niklas Savander, Executive Vice President of Services at Nokia, took to the stage, everybody in the audience knew that this announcement would be focused on services rather than on devices. Now although at first it may seem a little strange or rather disappointing, it highlights Nokia’s new attitude and strategy.
The Finnish manufacturer said last year that they will not announce as many devices as they did in the past, instead they plan to concentrate more on services built around the Ovi brand. This does not mean that Nokia will stop manufacturing new devices, but only that there will be less handsets made by Nokia.
If we take a look at Apple for instance, one can see how successful a company can be with such a small portfolio of handsets. Nokia in contrast, is offering a much wider range of devices, catering for almost every individuals preference. Nonetheless, it was really disappointing for many not seeing a new handset or at least a new service.
It is true that the merger of Maemo and Moblin to MeeGo is an important and logical step, but besides that there was no other new announcement. With Samsung, HTC and Motorola all introducing new and capable devices, Nokia will definitely need to announce a major smartphone within the next few months, otherwise they will lose more and more ground.
Nicolas Savander’s presentation was packed full of figures related to the current Ovi services. One of the most astonishing figures was that of the new Ovi Maps, which was downloaded more than 3 million times in less than a month. This is a staggering figure considering that there is only a handful of devices supported. This with the likes of Nokia Music, shows that Nokia is rapidly scaling their services to more and more countries and consumers. And thus far this is not the end as these services are constantly evolving.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the Ovi Services.
As already highlighted, the new Ovi Maps has been downloaded more than 3 million times and there is more than one download each second, 100000 every day. This reflects on Nokia’s effort put into this product. It was actually a long and hard way from the acquisition of Gate5 to this announcement, and as one can see, it has already payed off for Nokia. This service is Nokia’s flagship service and with more and more devices being launched with GPS and with a price point below 200€, like the Nokia 5230, there are more and more potential users. Indeed, this is an aggressive strategy which needs to be sorted out not by Nokia but by Tom Tom, Garmin and all the others players, because the new Ovi Maps not only features drive and walk navigation in 74 countries and 46 languages, but also traffic information at no extra cost!
A million people open an Ovi Mail account every month which is more often than not their first online identity, bringing the total number of accounts created to more than six million in just over a year. Working closely with operators, Nokia Messaging – Nokia’s push email service, is now signed up with over 70 operators and growing constantly.
Although the Ovi Store is not perfect yet and cannot compete against the Apple App Store, it still manages to generate more than one million downloads per day. Most of the downloads come from India, Russia, UK, Italy and Indonesia. In 2010 the aim is to have more language support along with better billing support and ultimately more apps. This is an area one needs to keep an eye on as it is a market in which Nokia is still behind and it is becoming one of the main factors for consumers looking to buy a new phone.
The Nokia Music Store recently received a major face-lift and is now more commonly referred to as Ovi Music, which is now offering DRM free music( for the a la card store only). Currently it’s available in just a few countries but more countries will be added soon. Comes With Music grew to 27 markets with its arrival in the Middle East. People that own a Comes With Music device can download as many free tracks as they want. The average person using Comes With Music downloads 500 free songs in the first few weeks of using the service, which would generally cost around 450€ from iTunes.
“Our global footprint means we have scaled fast, reaching a really significant number of people using a variety of different phones and smartphones. We started the year with a bang with our free Ovi Maps navigation launch and we have just announced the pilot of Nokia Money running in one of India’s largest metropolitan areas. Going forward, we are increasing the speed and concentrating on developing a magic experience for the people that use our services.” Niklas Savander, Executive Vice President of Services at Nokia.
This attitude, that hardware is not the most important factor in the current industry, is quite hard to grasp at first, but it becomes more obvious looking at the wider picture. Nokia plans to pave they way in which consumers use their devices in the future.