Nokia launches Ovi in the EU

In June when Nokia announced that they were restructuring the company to remain competitive many industry insiders expected a large part of Nokia's future to be based on internet services.

On Wednesday Nokia launched Ovi, and internet based music, gaming and maps store that will be accessible on the new Nokia N81 phone that offers 8GB of memory as well as their N-gage handheld. Ovi means "the door" in finnish and they are positioning the service as the gateway to a digital world.

The music store is set-up to be a direct competitor to itunes. Nokia has contracts signed with 4 heavy-weight music labels (Sony, EMI, Universal & Warner) and 2 million songs will be available in windows media format for downloading over wi-fi or the 3G network.

Ovi users will be able to download directly to there phone, versus the iphone where you must download to your computer then to your phone. You can pay 1 euro per song ($1.37 cdn) and download to your phone or receive unlimited PC streaming for $10 euro's per month.

The gaming section will offer access to Electronic Arts and Gameloft titles for downloading to the N81 or the n-gage hand set. The games will start at about $8, download.

Finally Nokia Maps will provide users with free access to maps of over 100 countries with impressive integration. The maps function will let you search for a specific nearby service such as restaurants and be connected directly to it through a "call" feature.

All in all this appears to be a very well thought out brand extension. My only question is that I feel service providers may be looking for a profit sharing deal from Nokia as they enter the territory of becoming a service provider. Here in Canada Rogers, Bell and Telus all have their own "music store" that will be directly competing with Ovi. Would you carry the enabled phone if you were them? Maybe if you saw a cut from profits.

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