Considering Porting Your App for Nokia’s Ovi? A Few Things You Should Know

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Nokia Ovi

If you’ve got a killer BlackBerry app, chances are that you’re considering porting it over to other platforms in order to grab more users or maximize your revenue. The obvious platforms to choose are iPhone and Android, but Nokia seems to be an afterthought, not only in smartphone media coverage, but from a developer perspective as well. I recently attended an event hosted by Nokia in order to learn more about their platform and what they offer. If you’re considering Nokia’s Ovi app store and the Qt OS, read on to learn more about what they have to offer.

First off, here are some numbers surrounding Nokia’s Ovi store:

4M downloads per day
165M active users (adding 250K per day). Probably around 200M by now
2.6 apps downloaded per visit
90% of daily traffic converts to downloads
190+ countries with active use
30 languages
25,000 pieces of content (much of this would not be considered “apps”)
100 developers with 1M+ downloads
400K devs signed up to Forum Nokia
1.5M downloads of Qt (cute) SDK
60% fixed rate revenue share (for carrier billing)
13x sales where carrier billing has been implemented vs not implemented

It seems that Nokia’s main strength for Ovi is in the number of users. The fact that Nokia sells such an incredible amount of handets and smartphones, makes the platform very attractive. Last quarter, there were 95M Qt smart-download enabled devices shipped, and 5M with Qt preloaded. For those who don’t know, Qt (pronounced “cute”), is a programming library that is found on not only smartphones and mobile devices, but a wide variety of embedded devices and platforms.

Nokia’s numbers are great and and it’s worth noting where those users are coming from. In terms of North American volume, it’s Nokia’s weakest market. While Nokia is making some strong moves to improve their presence in the North American market, their primary markets are Russia, China, India and Europe.

Considering Nokia’s primary markets are Russia, China, India and Europe, developers should consider applications that would be successful in these regions. I have heard that math and puzzle based games are very popular in Russia, while IM clients are all the rage in China. Developers should consider alternative monetization strategies, other than large upfront costs, because these markets may be more price-averse.

In terms of what Nokia can offer developers as alternative monetization strategies, the company is testing some key beta products. In-app purchasing is becoming very popular with developers and Nokia has an SDK that’s in private beta. According to the company reps, the service will be going public “in the next couple of months”. In-app advertising is also in beta and is powered by NavTech, a recent Nokia acquisition. Nokia also offers app analytics through another acquisition, Motally, which allows you to set up tags, events, and triggers, so you get a feedback loop from your users.

Nokia is making a big push right now to attract developers and their initiative is culminating in a giant contest/cash offering called “Calling All Innovators“. By submitting your Nokia app to the contest, you have a chance at winning:

$4M in cash (split among 51 prizes)
Winners also get to be part of a big $6M worth of marketing including digital and print
500 Qt smartphones up for grabs

If you’re going to get started developing for the competition, you’ll want to register for Nokia’s Forum and SDK, which costs 1 EURO. Personally, I think Nokia could do away with the fee, because the fewer barriers the better. RIM made the smart move of waiving all vendor fees and if you’re looking for developers, you should probably do the same. Also, keep in mind that your app “has to be relevant to the North American market.” Again, Nokia wants a better position in the North American market so don’t bother submitting your Shanghai mapping apps.

On an unrelated note, the Nokia rep basically confirmed a Meego tablet would be announced at Mobile World Congress. The exact wording was “I can’t confirm anything, but I’ll tell you that the Meego platform was designed to fit multiple form factors, and our CEO will be attending Mobile World Congress…so who knows? Maybe we’ll hear some exciting things announced.”

Have any questions about Nokia’s Ovi store or developing an app for Nokia? Leave it in the comments and I’ll see if I can dig up answers for you.

UPDATE: Changes made to the original to reflect something more helpful to developers. The goal of this article was to give devs who were considering Nokia some background on their numbers and the platform. The opinion part of it was less the focus.