Coming To An iStorefront Near You
Sure, the forthcoming a Nokia N97 looks to be a cool smartphone, and there's no question that its SDK will be a good tool for quickly developing powerful apps. (According to one developer at this week's Nokia Developer Conference, it only took 5 weeks from concept to shipping using the SDK and associated Web Runtime framework to develop a major app.) And with more than 500,000,000 devices in the field, it's hard to deny that Nokia is a big dog in the worldwide mobile market. Still, much of the talk at the Conference was less about how to build mobile applications and more on what to do with them once they're built.
In particular, most of the buzz was about Ovi Store, Nokia's answer to Apple's App Store which provided a distribution channel for developers and their products, a shopping center for consumers, and a wake-up call for the industry. Like the App Store, Ovi Store will support a range of content types including applications, games, videos, podcasts, productivity tools, web, and location-based services and much more. It will also usher in publish.ovi.com , a self-service, web-based tool that lets content providers and developers distribute and sell mobile applications and content to millions of consumers. Moreover, visitors to Ovi Store supposedly in the future can choose content based on their location, social networks, and recommendations of friends. At launch, Nokia claims that Ovi Store will have an addressable base of 50 million S40 and S60 devices and the service is expected to grow to address 300 million consumers by 2012.
But Ovi Store wasn't the only online store being talked about at the Conference. Lee Williams, executive director of the Symbian Foundation, was also talking storefront. According to Williams, the Symbian Foundation will launched its own "Application Inventory" before the end of the year. Unlike App Store or Ovi Store, however, Symbian's Application Inventory will focus on developer tools, while addressing the "30% issue" -- the "commission" that developers must pony up with for using App Store, Ovi Store, and similiar storefronts. Unlike these stores, the Symbian Foundation will not charge developers for selling their software via Application Inventory.