Nokia Rolls Out Ovi Dev Tools

The world's largest cell phone maker is betting that location-based applications will make its handsets more attractive than competing devices from Apple, RIM, and others.
Nokia said Thursday it would be bringing out tools to make it easier for various types of developers to create applications for its Ovi mobile application store.

The world's largest handset maker said it will continue to roll out more application programming interfaces and software development kits to enable content creators to easily make compelling apps. The company first plans to introduce the Ovi Maps API for location-relevant programs, and the Ovi Navigation Player API for turn-by-turn directions.

Nokia is betting that location-based services will be a key component in how consumers use their mobile devices, and it spent more than $8 billion to acquire Navteq in order to have a comprehensive geographic database to build apps on top of.

The company wants programs to integrate this location information with other programs to provide a class of apps it calls "social location." A recent example of this is the lifecasting app that will debut with the N97 mini, and this program enables Facebook users to have their location included with status updates.

"This is just the beginning," said Niklas Savander, executive VP of Nokia's services, in a statement. "We will work in close cooperation with developers to evolve the offering, starting with social-location solutions. Our goal is clear, and that is to make it effortless for our partners to create highly appealing, context-relevant applications that consumers will find indispensable."

The move comes as mobile apps are becoming a key differentiator in the smartphone space. Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been the key driver of this so far, but Nokia, Google, Palm, Microsoft, Samsung, and Research In Motion are rolling out centralized stores for users to browse, buy, download, and install new programs over the air.

Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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