Five things Nokia must do to make the Ovi Store a success

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The Ovi Store launched today, promising thousands of applications for a range of Nokia’s S40 and S60-based handsets.

What does Nokia need to do to give the Ovi Store the best chance of succeeding? Here are five for starters.

1. Create an easy to use Store

It’s inevitable that all mobile application stores are being compared to the one Apple implemented for iPhone users.

There’s no denying that the iTunes App Store offers a very slick and integrated system for the user, and Nokia needs to do exactly the same if it’s to encourage users to spend and download.

Some early reports suggest that the Ovi Store’s current layout is overcomplicated and difficult to navigate. Nokia would do well to make the store as easy to use as possible.

Does the Ovi Store really need a separate app to be installed prior to downloading other apps? If so, Nokia had better make that a seamless process. If not, scrap it and just give direct access to a WAP or web site.

Nokia also needs to make sure that it’s easy to pay for apps. Users will always be able to purchase using a registered credit card, but some will also be able to pay via their mobile network provider. I sense complications could arise from this.

Nokia may be thankful that a lot of its users, by nature, won’t have experienced other mobile app stores, because at present it’s not as good as it could be.

OPINION: Why I'm not going back to using Twitter with SMS

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I’m quite proud to say that I’m old-skool when it comes to Twitter – I’ve been signed up since April 2007. My first tweet? “Watching TV, waiting for my roommate to finish dinner, and then going out drinking.”

Back then I used the SMS system with Twitter. I’d SMS my updates to a central number, and the service would send them back to me by text. When you’re only following a few people, that’s fine. You don’t end up abusing your free text allowance.

But then Twitter, citing financial reasons, withdrew the SMS service in August 2008. Overnight, the gentle buzz from my phone getting Tweets two or three times a day just stopped. I stopped having a reminder to Tweet. As a result, I got a bit lazy and there’d be weeks between my Tweets.

But then something changed. I managed to slip over the tipping point of following enough people saying enough things that it was worth checking it daily, so it found its way onto my bookmarks bar of my browser and that got me back off the edge and tweeting again.

Nowadays I’m following 350-odd people, and I get about three or four updates a minute. That’s fine at my PC – running Twhirl means I can just let those conversations quietly purr away in the background. I’ve also got a client for my S60 phone – Twibble – which sorts me out on the go.

A company called Twe2 launched this week that lets European users get alerts on their phone, in exchange for an ad at the end of the Tweet. Yay! I can get my SMS Tweets back! But I don’t want it.

The idea of having three to four texts coming in to my phone every minute seems ludicrous. The way I use Twitter now – it’s there when I need it, and I can ignore it when I want – is perfect. I get any @replies and DMs emailed to me, and I check my email a billion times a day so I don’t miss them. I just don’t need SMS.

Do you agree? Or are you gagging to get SMS tweets back? Share your opinion in the comments.

Nokify – why Spotify and Nokia should team up

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Scandinavia is a cold place. The nights are long, the winters are snowy, and the coasts are fjordy. To stave off the cold, they run their computers all night long, and as a result the populations of the Nordic countries have become rather adept programmers and designers.

They make brilliant stuff, like the Pirate Bay, Ericsson phones, and a smörgåsbord of other exciting inventions, including Nokia and Spotify. In my post this morning about Nokia’s new music phones, I questioned why the two companies hadn’t made friends yet.

After all – Spotify has definite mobile ambitions and is in the process of pumping out an iPhone app. Nokia, on the other hand, dearly want to do more with music, but their Comes with Music service is an awful DRM-encumbred experience. Spotify has brilliant software, but no hardware. Nokia has incredible handsets, but a crappy software experience.

So why not combine? Ditch Comes with Music, which must be a buttload of hassle for Nokia to operate, and get Spotify to do exactly the same thing, but better. Build a year’s subscription into the handset price, and everyone’s happy. Nokia gets a fantastic music service that it doesn’t have to run, Spotify gets a tonne of new happy users, and the phone-buyer gets unlimited streaming music for free.

What could go wrong? Well, that depends on how Spotify implements its mobile experience compared to the desktop software. A constant 3G connection is unlikely, so there’s going to need to be some on-device storage of tracks, even if it’s heavily encrypted.

From what we know of Spotify’s iPhone application, it appears that you’ll be able to cache entire playlists – which would be fantastic. When the device can get a 3G connection, it will, but most of the time you’ll probably want to be playing off the internal memory – for reasons of battery life if nothing else.

A Spotify S60 application is coming, there’s no doubt about that, but with Nokia’s resources, expertise and cash behind the startup, something really exciting could happen that could really be a deal-breaker for someone choosing between a Sony Ericsson, Samsung or Nokia handset.

Best of all, it could finally drop the axe on the aging iPod, providing a fantastic, integrated on-the-go music listening experience with a catalogue in the cloud. I can’t think of anything better.

Spotify and Nokia

OPINION: Here's what I want from Google Latitude

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I don’t really care about privacy. I recognise the fact that other people do, but I don’t have anything to hide. Add that to the fact that I’m not especially interesting, and that I’ve been on the internet so long, and have such a unique name, that there’s a lot of me out there already.

That’s why I’m not bothered by commenters saying that Latitude is a massive privacy invasion. For me, the social proprioception offered by Latitude far outweighs the downsides of having my location available to my friends.

NOISE GATE: Why music subscription services will eventually work

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This is the second installment of Noisegate, my weekly column on digital music. If you’re interested, then you can find last week’s, as well as future weeks’ columns right here.

This week I’m going to talk about subscription services and mobile phones. With the launch of Nokia’s “Comes with Music” expected this Thursday, and Sony Ericsson’s “PlayNow” service expected soon, too, I thought now would be a good time to muse on whether subscription services will ever really work in the long term.

TECH DIGEST VERSUS: Google Chrome

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Your intrepid team of Tech Digest writers have been using Chrome all day today, avoiding the home comforts of Firefox, to test out exactly how usable it is on a day-to-day basis. We’ve each written a comment under a number of headings. Some of us like it more than others, that’s for sure, but read on for full details…

Opinion: Super fast broadband via the sewers is fine, but ISPs need incentives to improve

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Ofcom has decided to conduct a survey of Britain’s pipework to test its suitability for carrying fibre-optic cabling for use in high speed broadband networks.

Bournemouth Council has already tested broadband via the sewers, so it’s possible, but the main problem is that most ISPs don’t have a real incentive to roll out faster services.

Two issues — the growing use of mobile Internet, and Internet users’ skyrocketing demand for Video on Demand and other bandwidth-intensive multimedia — were never envisaged when the Internet was born.

Richard Gilzene: My favourite wastes of time…

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I thought making a list of my favourite websites would be incredibly easy. I’ve spent exactly half my life on the Internet. Part of the first generation raised on it. I use it everyday.