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My Nokia Ovi Experience and Upgrading an N95 to Ovi Compatibility

January 4, 2010

in Mobility, research

Another post I worte a few weeks ago and held off posting. I’d done it for my own understanding and as general market knowledge / intelligence. I held back on posting it as I’ve been doing some work for Nokia, I like Nokia and many of the people that work there impress me. Yet Ovi doesn’t cut it strategically or on execution today. The notes below are just that… what I noted down when trying to use the services for the first time. They have nothing to do with projects I’ve worked on.

The Ovi Store and related services should enhance my handset and life experience. It should make my Nokia a better tool. My conclusion at that end of the day was not positive. The handset relationship with the services was frustrating and not once did it provide a compelling ah ha. The range of handsets Nokia makes adds to the complexity. I tested it with an N95 imagining I was considering an upgrade to an N97. Today “everybody” well Apple, RIM, Android… are all claiming to have stores. Those stores are becoming compelling reasons to choose another Brand for the next top end purchase. (Note Ovi doesn’t really reach down below “Feature Phones” at this time)

Written some weeks ago – Summary

I’ve been using or trying to use the Ovi store today. Others have said it before and I’m going to say it now. It’s a real mess! The integration between Internet services, Ovi on the PC and on your mobile is terrible. Navigation is inconsistent, the experience is different on each system and you seem to be forever logging in to each one separately.

It started when a friend told me they had recently received a new Nokia music phone and 25 free songs to download from Nokia Music. Apparently this “experience” failed and they were not able to transfer the songs from the PC to the phone. My guess was the problem was how the software was installed on the PC (eg USB connection before the program install – I could be wrong). Still I was curious and wanted an update on how the store was working.

Features and Functions:

I pulled out my Indian SIM stuck it in my newly reset N95 and decided to try out OVI for myself.  First I searched Google and followed the first link. The first page I went to in Firefox on the Mac was the I registered a new name at the store. I then started clicking around the icons. This is what I found:

  • Contacts: Despite having just registered for the store I had to sign-in again to get to my contacts. There was no Yahoo like this is a security thing. I added my phone to my profile. N95
  • PhotoShare: Same thing. Had to log in there again.
  • Calendar: I had to log in there again. At least now when I come back I am still logged in. It recognizes my device from contacts.
  • Store: Back to the store. Still shows content for an N97. What’s the point?
  • Clicked the Ovi Mail (beta). Ops must have forgot to keep me signed in on the second visit. Again it requires me to sign in. Got my email account now. It’s basic and clean. I check settings. Again basic. This is not gmail, that’s for sure.
  • Email: Yes I created an Ovi email account. Had to sign in again. More notes below.
  • Maps: Next on the list is maps. I get a come back soon message. Back at maps. Looks a lot like GoogleMaps on opening. In the end I installed maps 3.0 onto my N95. OviSuite still doesn’t recognize that I’ve installed it. Added a map for California. Still can’t make it work effectively. By contrast I know that Google Maps just works.
  • Nokia Music: I select India as my country. Then I get an unsupported browser and operating system message. I return later on IE in Windows. This doesn’t excite me. Next problem how to get from either screen back to Ovi Home? Not possible from the Music Store. Surely I should have the same basic root navigation. For real. no where on the Nokia Music home page can you return to the Ovi Home page. What’s more you cannot even backspace your browser! I then tried to install the music player in Windows. This is my install fail screen. Later I added the Ovi Suite which seems to work.
  • Games! Oops Need to sign-in again. Need a player name etc. Sorry it is very obvious at this point this is not an integrated experience. How does one get back to Ovi central? Well there is a little green button at the bottom right. Can I go directly from this to my contacts or calendar. Again no.
  • Ovi Home: Okay some non tabbed features here. Eg Files is not in the top bar. Clicked. Oops have to sign-in again. Then I have to download and install the file connector. What to do? Do I add my name at the bottom and click next or sign-in. Decide to try and sign-in first. Nope doesn’t sign me in. Ok now asked to download software to my Mac. May install later.
  • Ovi Suite: Currently only works in Windows although apparently coming to Mac. I’ve downloaded it. My Windows is XP running on Parallels 5 (so perhaps not pure). I have an earlier PCSuite installed.

Ovi’s Problem:
At this point I’m getting a little tired. I’ve finally got the Ovi store installed on my N95. I am logged in. I end up on one screen that tells me to go to “messaging/mailbox” to add my ovi email account. The first setting I get is POP3 or IMAP? I’d like to presume the Ovi Mail is IMAP but have no idea. Till I find these answers in the FAQ. – IMAP. Note the support page doesn’t mimic the Navigation bar!.

I sent an Internet Ovi mail to another email account. After sending it, the mail program asked if I wanted to add the address. So I added it. I then went to Internet Contacts. No sign of the address I just added. What’s the point?

Next? Put in a test entry into my calendar. There’s no way for it to sync with the web calendar… certainly isn’t instantaneous. I’m wondering how to reconcile all these issues and errors in my head.

It doesn’t look like I am going to Ovify my N95 today. Should be playing with my N97 however my son borrowed it.

Ovi Store on Mobile:
The OviStore works better than expected on my N95. Still I wanted to share my photo’s. According to this page I have the right software but it asks me to log-in to VOX. The instructions are outdated and obsolete on this page. Now from the mobile and the OviShare store I’ve found the program and it is installing. Result still have the VOX request when I try and upload a picture. Similarly, now installing maps. Launched. This still doesn’t work as well as GoogleMaps which works well on Nokia’s. This points to another basic problem. The upgrades are piecemeal and not system wide. There is no moving from iPhone 2.0 to 3.0 or at least it isn’t apparent. Thus you have to be a very dedicated user to keep the phone up to date. (That’s true of the iPhone too.) Often it is easier to buy a new phone, and that’s where one risk for Nokia is. Eg the next phone has to do more sharing, it has to play video, etc. And it needs a large screen, a touch screen etc. So the next phone is not necessarily a Nokia given the level and speed of development that is happening and how consumers are changing and adapting their consideration sets.

There is also no escaping it. As an early Nokia fan and someone who’s first online mobile experience started years ago on a Nokia 3650 with an unlimited (GPRS) data plan I’ve been using Nokia’s top end phones and pushing the limits of them for years. They were the first phones I did email with (not with a Nokia email account), shared pictures (via Shozu), tweeted on (via SMS), ran VoIP clients on, used as a modem etc. Still the Ovi experience today seems broken,  it also isn’t for me or for America. And that is why I logged in from an Indian phone to try and wear that hat. For like Dell launching in China and Brazil, Ovi must become a force in these emerging markets for Nokia to be successful.

What’s Nokia’s Strategy
In the end, I can perhaps fathom Nokia’s strategy or direction if it is preparation for the 100’s of millions that don’t have an email or in fact any online connection today. The question is then can or will people buying a very cheap Nokia adopt and grow with Nokia as they become part of the mobile web. I’m frankly very dubious. Do these handsets etc get these users onboard the internet and accelerate their connections? Certainly not today. In fact I’m rather confused. I think Ovi should be a better mobile experience rather than a web or PC experience.

Or put another way…. in the emerging markets life starts with a mobile… it didn’t start with a landline, then a PC, then a mobile, then a laptop, then a smartphone etc. People will limited resources will do amazing things. While they may have more patience to get something done… eg take a long time to type out an email on a mobile with a small screen… I don’t think they have any patience for complicated sign-up or on procedures.

As a sophisticated PC user I’m browsing capable. That’s why I’m so excited when I hear about the N900 and a fully functioning firefox browser. That gives me more control over my life the way I want it. When I look at the Ovi navigation bar I really struggle to see who wants it. What is it that is compelling enough to make this the solution? I feel like Ovi is a mashup of Apple and Google clone copies without any access to the DNA.

Some improvements that I’d certainly consider.
1. Email. Nokia has a great data-gathering program. I wonder if the same basic approach can be adapted to email for those that don’t have GPRS and perhaps need some notification of emails received or even some summary. In other words, give me something I can’t get anywhere else. Also move to a notification and real-time signaling model. Even when people aren’t online. Example let me link my ovi account to a Twitter like account and use the SMS system to provide DM’s of new Ovi mail. Also can I send a relatively short binary SMS email message? Or will MMS make this work to a level and economically enough? Can my Ovi and MMS email be tied together?
2. Contacts. Yes backup of contacts is important and so is synchronization. Although it seems my contact lists are always a mess. Why can’t I still add a SkypeID, other IM handle TwitterID or bring in my Facebook or LinkedIn contacts. I actually want my contacts to go away. What I really want is a good directory. Bump is also a good example of exchanging personal details.
3. Calendar: This is completely pointless. I need to invite others. I must beable to sync my calendar with any device I’m on and updates should be instantaneous. Today I find Google Calendar syncs with my iPhone and iCal etc. I can share it and more. This calendar is too basic and there are other options out there. Again it could be improved if you could invite others via SMS. Even on the iPhone I can’t create an invite calendar entry unless I go to Google directly. For the third world a calendar confirmation via SMS is again something that creates value.
4. Browser. I like the Google Apps. Gmail and Maps for Nokia’s. I’ve also found the Google iPhone app very effective. Increasingly I don’t want your app I want a best in class app and best in class customization opportunity. Will Opera mobile with a server help? Right now I have no idea.

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