I just watched Episode 91 of Steve Litchfield’s “The Phones Show” where in this episode, he covers Application Stores:
- Apple’s App Store
- Nokia’s Ovi Store
- Google’s Android Market.
The Ovi Store is supposed to be Nokia’s one stop shop for Applications, Games, and other content such as ringtones, videos, wallpapers and themes.
I’ve been using the Ovi Store since the N97 came out. It’s good for what it does until you experience how stores work on other platforms- namely, App Store on the iPhone. Furthermore, there are annoyances in user experience that I would have had anyway were there no other app stores around.
The problems are listed with increasing hindrance to user experience as you decend the topics. (Hmm, for some reason, most of my list posts coincidentally end up having 7 items)
7. Inability to update the client within the app
Unless I go to the browser version of the Ovi Store and attempt to redownload Ovi Store for my N97, there’s no way for me to find out what version of the Ovi Store I’m using, let alone update it directly from the client itself. This is highly annoying since, with the stability issues (see next point), I need to know if there’s a new update that might improve my user experience of the Ovi Store so I won’t experience stupid error messages.
6. Stability issues
- on every update of the Ovi Store application, I have received annoying error messages that I’m not in fact signed in and Ovi Store refuses further navigation or download of applications. At times it gets so frustrating that I use the browser version of Ovi Store.Fortunately, these error messages occur less frequently, but it’s annoying that it still happens.
Whislt writing this post, Ovi Store crashed my N97.
5. Poor Searching
- Searching for an application by name is almost impossible. The best option is to describe it. E.G. instead of looking for “tweet60/tweet 60″ (which comes up with NO results) , I have to search “Twitter”. At the moment, the search function seems to be completely broken as it comes out with nothing for twitter
4. Poor, inconsistent preview style of apps before downloads.
The very first hurdle of the app store is getting a consumer to download an app. That’s the best way to really find out how good an app is. Good descriptions and previews help a lot if you’re unfamiliar with an application.
In Ovi Store, you get a short description, perhaps a thumbnail icon and if you’re lucky, a cropped screenshot of the app itself. In Apple’s App Store, the description varies, but it can get very detailed, lengthy and informative, whereas it’ll only ever be a short summary in Ovi Store. Also, you’ll get actual screenshots from the iPhone app.
Although the added information makes browsing for apps slower on the iPhone, the added detail in information makes it worth it (especially if you’re going to be forking over money!). Yes you could just find a dedicated review for that app, but it’s just so much more convenient to have that sort of detail within the app store itself.
3. Poor Navigation
On the N97, you’ve got a huge 3.5″ 640X360 screen, but as with most S60 5th edition apps, Ovi Store does not take full advantage of all the available space. Instead, Ovi Store opts to bury things within options that should be easily viewable at all times.
- Most Recent
- Most Popular (time scale please…today, this week, this month? etc)
- Filter paid/freeware
In Ovi Store you have a switch thing at the top so change from “Recommended downloads, applications, games, audio/video and personalization”. Then there’s a bar for search. Categories/most popular etc are hidden two clicks away (one click for options, another to select) in options.
Why couldn’t the additional be set up simply as icons? Simple, easily visible, just one click away.
Navigating both browser and mobile version of Ovi Store feels so unintuitive after using the App Store on either PC or iPhone. With the App Store in iTunes, it takes advantage of the bigger screen, displaying more apps, several categories/lists, different layouts of app description etc. Ovi Store on the browser has the same limited feel of the mobile app. Perhaps this is because Ovi Store doesn’t have a dedicated PC counterpart like iTunes and is just basically a browser version that’s also friendly to mobile browsers. But why can’t Ovi Store users have an improved PC version too?
Maybe more apps are just being downloaded directly from the mobile app? If so, then Nokia really need to invest in improving its user interface.
2. Lack of Content
…Both in quantity and quality. Launched late May 09 – so slightly understandable then for the lack of content at launch. 4 months on, there are few worthwhile additions for an N97 (or S60 5th edition) user looking for some great applications.
The Ovi Store attempts to cater for a lot of devices on Nokia’s various platforms, and not just in terms of applications but also audio and video customizations.
This fragmentation leads to a diluted content of applications with only
- 565 compatible applications for the N97 …with several variants, e.g. English dictionary, Spanish Dictionary and several other reference dictionaries, several eBook titles (which should really be just 1 eBook app, with separate eBook purchase within the app). I reckon under 10% of the paid apps on the Ovi Store are anywhere near worth their price label.
- 211 Games on the Ovi Store.
- The bulk content for the N97 are audio/video and personalization with rank up 227+718 pieces respectively.
This does not account for the several hundred apps available for S60 5th edition, or the abundant themes which are yet (if at all) to make it on the Ovi Store.
[Fragmentation within the Nokia OSes means that there are more great apps for S60 that just never got ported over to 3rd/5th edition so will just be resigned to the history books]
1. Poor Pricing
One of my biggest loves for Apple’s App Store is not only the fantastic quality and vast numbers of applications available but the relatively cheap prices for paid applications. A lot of applications on the App Store are priced around $1/£0.59.
59 pence – that’s enough for what, 1 donut in Greggs (UK bakery). That price is so low, I wouldn’t even consider price as a factor in the purchase. Just whether it’s interesting enough for me to click and download it.
This makes it easy to make spontaneous purchases on applications that generate a slight interest. That’s great for both the consumer (as we don’t pay that much for an app) and even more so for the developer as lots of people can make quick purchases which adds up! (1USD x 300,000 > 25GBP X 30).
One of the biggest faults (and hindrances for me anyway) on the Ovi Store is pricing. When you price an application high enough that I have to consider whether it’s worth it, almost always, I won’t buy it.
If I were to allocate myself £10 monthly app purchases, I’d easily spend that on 16 x £0.59 great applications, possibly more. But the moment prices creep up to £3, £4, £8, to £26, instead of making that spontaneous purchase, I reflect on whether the app is worth it, and just don’t bother buying.
It’s not simply the price but the value for money. £1.50, £3 or even £6 is a lot for an app that I may just use on a rare occasion, but more than worth it for apps I’d be using frequently, maybe on a daily basis like Gravity or are simply just very good quality applications like SmartMovie. Unfortunately, going back to content, there are few paid apps on Ovi Store that (I think) are worth the what they’ve valued themselves to be. Content quality and price go hand in hand. If some of the crappier apps on Ovi Store were priced cheaply, I think I’d take a punt and buy them because they would be cheap enough. But they aren’t.
Sell great apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other fantastic apps > sell fantastic apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other amazing apps > etc etc etc.
Poor pricing acts as a block to this cycle.
(There are additional factors involved such as ease of making apps and distribution base – I’ve just over simplified it)
I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong and Nokia and the developers are making megabucks with Ovi Store as it is.