BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Nokia on Wednesday
launched a series of Web services under the brand name Ovi that allows users of
its phones to download games, maps and music directly to their cell phones.
The Finnish Mobile phone maker's new Music Store is
in direct competition with Apple's iTunes offering. Although Apple's iTunes is
less expensive, Nokia's service is a huge step forward in accessibility.
IPhone users have to download songs to their
computers, but Nokia's Ovi users can download songs directly to their phones.
Ovi will be available in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2007, but at the
present there is no timetable for entering the United States.
The company has struck deals with the world's four
biggest music labels, Universal Music, Warner Music Group, EMI and
Sony BMG, and some of the largest game makers, including Electronic
Arts and Gameloft for its game store, N-Gage.
"The services unit will, in terms of sales, be
extremely small in the beginning," said Nokia spokesman Kari Tuutti. "But that's
really the future we see for Nokia, to be able to develop our business around
offering services to people."
Tuutti said there are already more than 900
million people in the world with a Nokia mobile phone in their pocket, who he
expects to replace with an Ovi-enabled phone in the next two years. Customers
can't download Ovi to their current Nseries phones, they have to upgrade to the
new models being launched this autumn.
Nokia is launching worldwide the 350 euro (476 U.S.
dollars) N81, and a larger capacity version of its N95, with 8 gigabytes, for
550 euros (748 dollars) in October. Later in the year there will be some
lower-priced models with the Ovi software, including the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic,
for 325 euros (442 dollars), and the Nokia 5610 XpressMusic for 300 euros (408
dollars). Nokia is hoping that other rival phone makers will want to use its Ovi
software, but it's doubtful they will at first.
The first Nseries handset with the capability to
access Ovi, Finnish for "door," will be the N81, a slider phone that comes
with 8GB of memory. The device has been slightly optimized for gaming, with
thumb buttons on either side of the phone's face, a bit like a PSP or
Nintendo DS, so users can play games with two hands instead of one thumb.
It also comes with a navi-scroller that is touch sensitive, similar to an iPod