Nokia to pay brands to build apps for Ovi store

Nokia is to pay advertisers to create branded apps for its Ovi app store in a push to counter the dominance of Apple's iPhone and Google Android-supported smartphones.

Nokia
Nokia

The plans have been confirmed by several app developers, which said they have been approached by Nokia. The handset manufacturer wants to foster the development of further apps to help drive sales of its mobile phones.

The market-leading Apple App Store hosts about 300,000 apps; the number of Android apps currently sits at just over the 100,000 mark, but is growing rapidly.

A Nokia spokesman claimed that 'tens of thousands' of apps were available for Nokia handsets, but refused to reveal the exact number.

He insisted that 'a lot of momentum' had been generated for the development of apps, with 3m downloads a day taking place from its Ovi store.

More than 400,000 developers have signed up to work on apps for Nokia's Symbian platform for mobiles and MeeGo platform for devices such as netbooks and tablets.

John Bernard, head of global marketing for rival platform Ubuntu, owned by Canonical, claimed Nokia's smartphones failed the 'pub test' - of users demonstrating novelty apps to friends - because its Ovi store hosts relatively few apps.

'Manufacturers such as HTC have taken UK market share ahead of the established number-one, Nokia, (due to) their ability to offer this,' he added.

Bernard pointed out that Nokia also loses out with mobile network operators because enthusiastic app users add 'incremental income to the operator, a value proposition to a handset manufacturer and income for a developer'.

Sony Ericsson had been developing the Symbian OS with Nokia, but last month confirmed that it would abandon the platform to concentrate on developing Android phones, a market it hopes to dominate.

Apple's iPhone App store is the longest-standing in the market, having opened in July 2008. It was followed by the Android app store and BlackBerry App World store, which opened in February and April 2009 respectively.

The latter hosts more than 10,000 apps, while Nokia's Ovi store, which opened in May 2009, hosts an estimated 25,000 apps.

IN MY VIEW - Expert comment

John Bernard, Head of global marketing, Canonical

The availability of options on open source platforms such as Android, Ubuntu and the Apple Store are revenue drivers for the operators.

It isn't a question of making a small margin on a design-led piece of equipment to pass the 'pub test', but having in your pocket instead a quick, feature-rich multimedia device that is capable of enriching lives through an up-to-date app store.