Nokia opens door to services; devices not enough

Finnish vendor Nokia lifted the curtain on a slew of offerings on Wednesday, highlighting the company’s shift towards a more services oriented strategy.

At a presentation held in London, chief executive, Olli Pekka Kallasvuo, introduced ‘Ovi’, a gateway to Nokia services suites. Trivia fans note that ‘ovi’ means ‘door’ in Finnish.

Evidently going after the portable music space currently dominated by Apple, Ovi will incorporate a music service featuring closer integration between the PC and mobile device.

Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia executive vice president and general manager of Multimedia, told the audience, “it should not matter on which device you download the tune. Services today are too PC oriented.”

Vanjoki said that in the coming months, Nokia would rebuild the user interface on its devices to allow closer integration with web-based services.

To accompany the introduction of its music shop, the Finnish vendor launched a handful of new devices, including the much awaited 8GB N95.

Positioning itself to pick up on some of the hype generated by Apple’s iPhone, the N95 has been reborn in a shiny black casing, packing 88GB of on board memory. But the new N95 was outshone by the N81 made for music phone, which also features 8GB of memory but also incorporates a scroll wheel and dedicated gaming keys.

Two XpressMusic devices, the 5310 and 5610, with dedicated music keys, rounded off the handset offerings.

But Kallasvuo made a brave statement on behalf of the world’s biggest handset vendor. “Devices alone are not enough anymore,” he said, indicating the company’s new direction towards the services space.

Where the N95 kick started Nokia’s move towards location based services with GPS functionality, from September, Nokia will introduce a swathe of new location-based services including voice guided navigation and city guides amongst others.

Ovi will also incorporate the troubled N-Gage gaming platform, reviving the offering by making games more affordable, introducing a rental model and making everything free to trial.

Lastly, the gateway will also incorporate Nokia’s social networking initiatives, such as Mosh, building on close integration of PC-based services with the mobile.

All the new services and devices are set to make an appearance in the fourth quarter, just in time to take on the iPhone in Europe ahead of the Christmas rush.

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