I learn about the launch of the Nokia Music Store (NMS) from TheRegister’s excellent piece on the launch. Nokia are calling it Ovi and sports a logo right out of make your own Web 2.0 logo in 3 easy steps.
It’s never been cool, and its critics say that it’s boring and bland, with all the style of a Soviet tractor factory. But it churns out a frightening amount of stuff each year, and it makes pots and pots of money. And its logo is absolutely everywhere.
As usual, one hand doesn’t know what other is doing, so after much ado about their recent purchase of Loudeye it turns out they’ve decided to do a different thing altogether and start from scratch. And scratch is about as much as they’re ever going to do. Their new shop works just on a couple of phones. The company that used to bang on about open standards has recently adopted a close platform approach, forcing people down a specific handset route in order to enjoy software. That’s always been the case -Nokia makes about 3 different phones, and loads different software and fascias to make up their impressive array of model numbers. But when you’re making your money after you sell the phone, you’d expect the software to be available to all.
Not, it seems, if you’re Finnish. They know best. People will be happy to pay €400 for the privilege of being able to buy their music from Nokia. Right…
The operators will do everything they can to ensure that NMS sinks without trace. Nokia once had similar grand plans for Club Nokia, but the networks killed those ambitions, too.
Nokia’s half-hearted attempts at entering the direct-to-consumers services market have always suffered from the same fundamental flaw: Nokia doesn’t want to be successful. The guys involved certainly want to take over the world, but their bosses won’t let them because they know who buys their inferior, overpriced products. It is the operators. Therefore, features will be culled and the service won’t be funded properly, resulting invariably in a flop that reinforces the self-inflicted mantra that devices is the only thing they know how to do.
I find the reference to Club Nokia particularly insightful, as I was involved in both incarnations of the club (first a loyalty scheme, then a digital content shop). It was exactly as I have just described it, to the dismay of the very good people involved and the glee of the beancounters, happy to remain stuck in the business of soldering and shipping.
I long to find out about the music store and I promise to try, but for now I can only guess: an agency designed the idea and the logo, a manager with some money in a budget paid for the lot, the money run out and the product had to be launched in phase 1 to prove itself before more funding. Nobody from the product team was involved, so they retrofit the app to a couple of phones while they wait for the custom-designed ones to arrive next year, when the service has already flaundered, too late again. Change the name from NMS to N-Gage and it could ring true, couldn’t it?
Nokia is a one-trick pony. Any attempt to deviate from the one trick is destined to failure. No matter how much money they may have in the bank or how much the Finnish government’s subsidies run to their support every time they catch a cold, soldering and shipping is all they’re good at.
(Not that Nokia isn’t capable of making a flop of NMS without any assistance at all, of course).
Not indeed. Their track record in making a flop of stuff themselves is enviable. Welcome Ovi, goodbye Ovi.