Is Nokia’s Ovi sizzling or fizzling?

Some months ago I last touched on the prospects of Nokia’s relatively new internet service, Ovi.com, and recent news made me believe it is now time for a follow-up.

The first item to touch on is the revelation that Ovi will be scaled back a bit in scope.  The media sharing portion has apparently not gained enough traction in the time accrued thus far, so further development will be halted at least for the time being.  As with anything in these economically-uncertain times, it’s difficult to speculate on whether this is truly the start of a permanent drawdown in that service or perhaps just a temporary retreat.  Personally I hope Nokia does continue the service, even though I admit it’s up against some very entrenched competitors (such as the very popular Flickr).  As I opined in the previous article, there still remains quite a bit of potential in parts of the world not fully served by established providers that are popular in the US, Europe, etc.

Nokia could still gain respect and admiration (and surely users) by providing that holy grail of internet services, the single-sign on experience.  Imagine a one-stop-shop front end for all the various media services out there!  True, there would be logistical and possibly legal hurdles to clear but the prospect is exciting nonetheless.

And just to show I’m not pulling this out of thin air, I present the following graphic from the Ovi home page:

Flickr sign-in at Ovi.com

This article on Engadget speculates further; the author believes the work heretofore spent on the share service will now go into APIs for integration of third party offerings.  I also note that the look-and-feel of Ovi and Flickr are converging.  Accidental coincidence?

Interestingly, Nokia is getting closer to providing the Ovi experience to those underserved regions like Asia, Africa and India.  One of their latest offerings, the 2740 Classic, is a 3G phone for 80 euros.  That’s cheap, folks.  Couple that with a low-cost data plan and the internet really can go anywhere!

One gripe I still have about Ovi is that Maemo devices are not represented.  When I first brought that up to the team they responded that it was not possible to support the technology.  I then politely pointed them toward resources that did just that, received a thanks, and perhaps that was the end of it.  I hope not.  If any device platform was designed to embrace a concept like Ovi, it was the Nokia internet tablet product line (770, N800, N810).  The Ovi gang needs to get on board.

On a final note, I am concerned about the future of Nokia’s devices in general.  More job cuts were just announced and they are getting deeper and deeper into the bone of the organization.  Nokia should have had the resources to keep the people it’s letting go (like me) IF there was some future for them once the global economy recovers.  In my opinion too many critical resources are being let go if that were to be the case.  I strongly suspect that in two to three years’ time Nokia will be out of the device business per se, choosing to outsource the entire operation.  I think that would be a mistake, but then, my opinion is a small one.  ;)  And the fact that Nokia is releasing unused patents for any Finnish company to use (no strings attached it seems) just adds fuel to my musing.

How the events around Nokia’s other businesses will affect Ovi remains to be seen.  I will say the Ovi site is looking better all the time, but I hope it’s not just a pretty facade on top of a troubled service… any Ovi users care to chime in?

9 responses to “Is Nokia’s Ovi sizzling or fizzling?

  1. Unlike, say, Microsoft, which announced something like 10,000 layoffs, Nokia will just announce a few here, a few there. The end result will likely be the same. By the way, the last layoff announcement hit the group you were working for at Nokia.😉

    The things I am hearing from people who were not offered jobs at Check Point (or didn’t accept) aren’t good. The market conditions are shaking Nokia to its very core. To survive, Nokia must and is changing. The Nokia that emerges from this metamorphosis will be a very different Nokia than the one we worked for.

  2. ovi is a miserable failure all over. maybe the store will work, that would be cool, but everything else is literally unusable. it’s incredible to see this amount of incompetence.

  3. Phoneboy, thanks for your perspective. I agree Nokia must change to survive, just as it has in the past. However, I see the devices business as a necessary conveyance to get Ovi into growing markets. Without the benefit of those devices coming pre-enabled for Ovi services, Ovi faces a much longer and harder struggle for share of the internet services landscape.

    ossi1967, I think that’s a bit hyperbolic and yet have to agree with the essential sentiment. Looking at Ovi objectively, one can’t help but come away wondering if Nokia is actually serious and sincere about it. It’s true that sewing together all of those separate acquisitions was never going to be easy, but in order to compress a linear timeline you add resources to create increasingly parallel effort. I don’t think that was done to the necessary extent.

    Thanks for your contributions!

  4. yes, my words may sound too harsh… but then, as you say: the whole thing should have been so easy. all they needed to do was copy some very standard, successful, well-established services like flickr.

    they didn’t fail where it was difficult (single sign on, merging existing services), they failed on what should have been easy: get each single service to work and apply a nice UI.

    i once said it looks as if an epileptic boar had farted it against a wall. now *that* was hyperbolic, but it somehow reflects the feeling i have when i go there now to see whats new. share didn’t work for me, sync didn’t and chat was a disappointment (although technically it works). all that combined with a UI that keeps sending you round in circles plus a clueless customer support and you have my hysterical laughter whenever an important nokian explains how important it is for the company. – how many people work on ovi? 3? 4?

  5. I have to agree that it *looks* as if Ovi enjoys a tiny, undersupported staff. That’s something many critics have alleged and Nokia should have corrected whatever is causing that perception long ago.

  6. Pingback: What Will The Emerging Nokia Look Like?

  7. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  8. Pingback: Ovi: door, wall, or minefield? « Tabula Crypticum

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