Nokia sees mobile users wanting services over phones

Consumers will seek phones that offer more than solid hardware features and provide services such as music and navigation

Services, such as maps and music downloads, will dictate how consumers select their mobile phones, and hardware will adapt to meet this trend, said Tero Ojanperä, Nokia's executive vice president of services.

"The consumer expects more. What can your phone do for me?" Ojanperä said during a session at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston on Tuesday. "Can it play music, navigate? Having a color screen or QWERTY keyboard isn't enough."

To answer the mobile market's demand for services, Nokia is preparing to launch the Ovi mobile application store later this month. The store, announced in April, will feature software programs as well as games and videos, said Ojanperä. Nokia's offering is going up against an army of new mobile software stores, including Research In Motion's recently launched application store for its BlackBerry devices and Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The mobile application market will develop as the industry shapes it, he said. Sharing software sales revenue with developers must be handled in a way that benefits developers and businesses. Companies that retain too great of a cut from app sales will deter developers from a mobile OS.

"If the industry takes too much, there will be no interest. It will hurt our platform," he said.

While Nokia plans to monitor applications submitted to Ovi, the company wants the store to be as open as possible, Ojanperä said. Apple drew the ire of developers for pulling some applications, such as one that enabled BitTorrent file sharing.

"Working with carriers, there may be some apps that are too bandwidth intensive," Ojanperä said.

Nokia's version of openness includes allowing its Symbian mobile OS to enable downloads from other mobile application stores, Ojanperä said.

Ultimately, Ojanperä envisions a single application that combines maps, messaging, music, media and games, all areas the company is pursuing.

This application "will show where friends are, what they are listening to and use messaging to reach them. It is connecting these functions."

Ojanperä also addressed the recent news surrounding its Ovi Share product, saying that Nokia had not stopped investing in the online information sharing service. On May 8 Nokia announced it was closing the office that developed Ovi Share, a move the mobile industry perceived as the company shuttering the service.

Ovi Share will be integrated with Nokia phones and some Web sites, he said. To Nokia, this means that a user takes a photo with a phone's camera and simultaneously uploads the image to social-media sites like Facebook and Flickr.

Elevating the role of services also means that hardware will be designed around software, he said. While this mentality did not always exist at Nokia, "that is about to change and is part of this overall transformation" to emphasize services on top of a device, Ojanperä said.

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Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
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