Earlier today I read Stuart Dredge's extensive, candid interview with Nokia's George Linardos about the Ovi store debacle, in which the VP of Product, Media & Games was refreshingly self-deprecating and obviously keenly aware that the store has deeply disappointed consumers and mobile content publishers. “We have screens in the office with the Twitter feeds running all day long, and it’s like constantly getting punched in the face!” he says... I probably threw a few of those punches and I have to admit it's kinda satisfying to know they landed (nothing personal, George). To the extent that awareness of a problem is half the battle to finding a solution, this is good stuff. In addition, the fact Nokia is in the final stages of building an all new infrastructure for Ovi, that will replace the current tape and glue version this Spring, is positively inspiring.
This interview confirms what we've all suspected for many months... that Nokia vastly underestimated Apple's ability to rapidly establish the iTunes App Store as the benchmark of mobile content retailing. But, despite the Finn's efforts to step it up a bit with a technologically enhanced Ovi 2.0, I feel pretty confident that Apple will continue to kick Ovi's ass for the foreseeable future. The "fruit company from Cupertino" accelerated out the gate like a bullet on a rail, and shows no sign of slowing, while Nokia hobbled onto the track and is just beginning to trot. Ovi claims almost 1mil app downloads per day with a 100% monthly growth rate, but as impressive as that sounds it's gonna be a herculean task for them to meaningfully compete with the App Store beast... with its 2bil downloads lifetime and 6.6mil per day, from a catalog of 110k Apps that's getting 10k new submissions per week. And then there's Nokia's crappy (and getting crappier) footprint in the US which, frankly, will make the job so much tougher. I recognize that Nokia has dominant share in much of the world ex US, particularly in some of the fastest growing markets. But, from a practical perspective the US market is really an ideal base from which to build a digital retail empire by virtue of its population, common language, developer community and culture of consumerism. That means Nokia will have to continue to build scale the hard way, from disparate territories with their own language/cultural issues that require multiple marketing and retail strategies, that are expensive and labor intensive to execute. This model creates a negative side-effect for publishers (especially those smaller shops that have benefited Apple)... who'll need to be convinced that it makes sense to deploy apps in 20+ languages before there's any meaningful sales volume. So bonne chance with that Nokia, and if you have the chops to successfully build scale this way you can shift your agida to Apple's other huge advantage... iTunes billing.