Nokia has been proudly touting some impressive statistics of its Ovi store recently, and on the surface they do seem promising. Given their global cell phone sales numbers, that shouldn’t be surprising. Even though Nokia has hit a rough spot, the company still manages to crank out more devices per year than any competitor.
However, looking into the details exposes some disturbing aspects.
- Nokia was slow to recognize the needs of independent developers. This has improved somewhat.
- Official support for programs developed using alternative languages like Python has been slow in coming. Qt/C++ are certainly the way to go in general, but Python is popular, powerful and has a low barrier to entry… at least on the coding side.
- Ovi Store has been buggy, frustrating many developers. Getting bugs fixed has been difficult and slow.
- Interestingly, the N900 doesn’t show up in any of the metrics on the statistics page linked in the first sentence above. Given the poor support for the device, that isn’t surprising. What might this ultimately say for MeeGo?
Nokia, despite the numbers, Ovi Store still needs a lot more love. Your slowness to embrace entreprenurial developers says that you still don’t see where you stand to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Granted that gateways for quality assurance and security need to be in place, but that can be done and still accomodate independent developers. You need to cultivate a large army of fiercely loyal coders to fill Ovi Store’s virtual shelves. That will mean some creative solutions above and beyond what you’ve implemented so far. There’s plenty of potential… so fulfill it!
I said a while back I would work on a more positive tenor here, so let’s end this on a constructive note. My suggestion: you need to beef up your developer engagement staff in Ovi. I recommend the following:
- Developer Outreach Manager. This role would focus on developer engagement at a high-level, working to clear legal and bureaucratic roadblocks within Nokia that are hampering developer acceptance of Ovi. The role would be empowered to break down walls.
- Developer Engagement Specialists. A global team reporting directly to the above, with regional presence in all the important areas for Ovi Store. Yes, I’m going to include the US in that. These folks would act as liaison between developers and Ovi Store entity, gathering feedback and driving improvements within the organization.
- Application Quality Assurance. You can’t have too many people testing applications. This activity tends to be a bottleneck, so make the neck as wide as possible.
Maybe these roles, or something similar, are already in place… but given the lack of a formal presence at maemo.org, I have to assume they may not exist at all. I’ve been hearing that Ovi suffers a lack of resources in general, and this is difficult to process– Nokia isn’t exactly hurting for cash, and in this downturned global economy there are plenty of candidates to expand the staff.
So no more excuses, Nokia. You’ve said Ovi was the future of the company, and the Store is an important component of that strategy. Let’s now see some more support for that. And for those interested in being part of the solution, check these job listings.