Ovi Store Rant: 7 things wrong with the Ovi Store

| September 26, 2009 | 11 Replies

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.

not a n97

Ovi Store, Web Version. Small descriptions, cropped screenshot. Demonstrates what google shows as an N97 but that's NOT the N97. That's not even a REAL PHONE for goodness sakes. Who filters the Ovi Store submissions?

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.

  • Categories
  • Most Recent
  • Most Popular (time scale please…today, this week, this month? etc)
  • Filter paid/freeware
  • Search

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.

MNB4000017Why 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.


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Category: 5th Edition, Nokia, Rant, S60, Suggestions, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • Some good points above. My overall score for Ovi Store was a lot lower than for the other two stores and even then, I was being a little generous. Still, I do believe that Nokia can turn things around – they’re a big company. And, as I said in the video, most people don’t NEED 1000 apps. They just need a dozen really good ones.

    Disagree over pricing though. I’d rather pay £8 for a great app (e.g. Gravity) and know that the developer’s getting his rent paid.

    • Jay

      Hi Steve (really? – great episode btw, loved the 3 finalists, JoneDK’s entry was hilarious!)
      …my reply turned into another long winded rant. Sorry.
      X. “most people don’t NEED 1000 apps. They just need a dozen really good ones.”
      Totally agree. In terms of necessity of apps, there are only a handful (though “necessity itself is an entirely different issue I won’t go into :P.). That being said, with only a few “necessary, must haves”, for an app store to be successful (or at least as shown by Apple standard) it needs to get people to buy the not-so-essential apps too. These have to be some ‘fun’, cheap/good value apps that can be bought spur of the moment, without much regard to the price as it’s so well valued.
      Apple’s App Store has so many random, non essential applications, but they’ve been well made, look really good, have a great user experience but best of all, most are priced low/good value that I wouldn’t mind spending maybe 59pence for an hours entertainment.
      Apple’s App Store is more like that big supermarket. e.g. Like Tesco (perhaps Walmart for US?). So many things there, some great and essential, Milk, bread, butter apps, some crap things you may not ever get, but a lot of other goods that you probably didn’t come in the store for, but were attractive enough and cheap enough to buy out of spontaneity. Having relatively lots of apps, with a steady stream of new ones keeps things fresh and increases the chance that there’s something there that’ll be of interest.
      Ovi Store is a bit more like an outrageously over priced corner shop – less variety, only some essentials, few adequately priced, all the other things aren’t that good but nearly everything is priced 50% more than other stores. There is a small trickle of new apps, and some apps that have been around for a while take time to get to Ovi Store (e.g. BBC iPlayer).

      Z. “I’d rather pay £8 for a great app (e.g. Gravity) and know that the developer’s getting his rent paid.”
      Agree with you there. Again, with pricing, I probably didn’t make myself totally clear. I don’t want everything to be cheap (not that I’d mind), I want everything to match their value. Like I said above, “£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”
      £6/£8 which ever Gravity is priced at, is worth it because it’s a quality app I’d be using on a daily basis. A lot of after support and effort to update goes with that app so it’s more than worth that price. (Pricing down to make it even more attractive to other new users is another issue, which I think won’t happen as Jan said somewhere that he doesn’t want to annoy others who paid in full.)
      I’d be more than prepared to pay more for apps which are good value for what they deliver to the consumer (value, i.e. either in the productivity I get, the frequency of use, the sheer brilliance of the app or maybe even all three).
      +Sims 3 for iPhone – 3.99 – looks absolutely stunning, and gameplay (minus bugs) is really good.
      + Crash NitroCart – £1.79
      + Copilot live UK & Ireland £25.99
      …Ovi Store also has Sims 3, priced at £4 but that looks like it came out in the 90s.Oddly, Sims 3 is priced at £6 at N-gage. N-Gage also has Crash NitroCart, but priced at £6, £4.21 more than the iPhone variant. I don’t even want to begin ranting on N-gage…btw N-Gage titles still aren’t on Ovi Store, right? Not that I could find them with the crappy search function.
      So basically, I just want value for money apps. There are many ‘cheap’ £1/£1.50 apps on Ovi store, but I wouldn’t say they were woth £1 (not to me anyway). Especially not considering what kind of quality apps I can get for £1 on App Store. and see something uberly basic for that amount on Ovi Store.
      In terms of making sufficient income that perhaps more than offsets the development of the app, (possibly even make a living from it): If you make a quality app that’s priced attractively too, couldn’t you make a lot of money by selling for less but at much higher volumes, than selling for more and push people away because of the high price? Again an over simplification that doesn’t take into account the (difficulty of) development involved and the smaller user base possible with a fragmented ecosystem.
      Y. “I do believe that Nokia can turn things around – they’re a big company.”
      I really, really do hope so. Although I don’t know how they’re going to manage it when they’re dividing their attention now on making Maemo Apps. What happens next when they have Symbian^4 when S60 compatibility is broken? Will S60 apps be ported? A lot of S60 1st/2nd edition never made it up to 3rd/5th. QT may help with the whole cross platform thing…I don’t understand it entirely… my simple mind just wants one simple platform for developers to latch their teeth onto and get Nokia Apps, and Ovi Store where they should be. At number 1.

  • Jono

    1 is down to the developers (though I agree somewhat with Steve) and so is 4, to a great extent.

  • I have almost no faith in the Ovi initiative and it’s mostly for the reasons outlined in your excellent analysis Jay. In truth, I honestly don’t think that anyone is going to replicate what Apple have done with the App Store. At least, not for many, many years.

    The reasons are simple, but not obvious. Let’s brake it down:

    1. Developers had been writing apps for OS X for over 9 years before the App Store even arrived!

    2. The iPhone/iPod Touch development tools are some of the smartest, easiest and cheapest in the computing industry.

    3. Apple, the Mac and OS X have a rich heritage in the print and design industry. Apple users like everything to look appealing. Hardware and software that doesn’t come up to Apple’s lofty standard rarely gets a look in. This raises the bar for the UI and general look of all OS X applications, whether that be for the Mac or the iPhone.

    4. iTunes. Apple’s experience with media distribution, promotion and purchasing is paying massive dividends for them with the App Store.

    5. There are now 50 million customers. Those 50 million devices have the exact same screen resolution, user input method and broadly similar computing hardware.

    6. Apple have a world class network of Apple Stores and a mature and easy to use online Store.

    7. Steve Jobs

    To create something as appealing as the App Store, Nokia (and everyone else) will need a similar set of skills, advantages and circumstances.

    Right now, the only company that might be able to loosely replicate these is Microsoft, which is why I think we’ll see a Zune Phone and Zune Store before the end of next year.

    You’d think that Google should be able to achieve something similar with their Android platform but progress has been aching slow… And let’s be honest, trying to organise the open source bunch is like trying to herd cats!

    RIM, Palm, and the rest have no chance.

    So what about Nokia? They have massive amount of devices in use, they have a well loved global brand, they’ve got many, many talented people, they have their experience with the Music Store and N-Gage… But that’s really about it.

    It’s depressing to think that Microsoft might end up being Apple’s only true competitor in the App Store space, but part of me thinks this might be the most likely scenario.

    The smartest thing the Microsoft could do right now would be to offer to distribute their competitors applications. In other words, alongside Zune Phone apps, offer a store for Symbian, Maemo, Blackberry, Android and Palm apps. The more I think about it, the more this makes sense.

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  • Lebby

    I agree with stability issues, poor navigation and pricing. There is quite a bit of content on Ovi but because of the poor navigation you never get to see most of the apps. Im using Ovi on my 6210 Navigator and it’s terrible using it. For some reason everytime I open Ovi it switches on my GPS and I have no clue why. You know Ovi used to be known as MOSH and it was excellent. Browsing on desktop and mobile was so comfortable. You could find anything you wanted and practically all the apps were free. I’ve seen apps that used to be free on MOSH and now they are on average £5. I think Nokia should go back to MOSH. It was easy to navigate, not too pricey and above all stable.

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