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Nokia Ovi Store: Initial Impressions

Nokia's Ovi Store recently became available to users of Nokia mobile phones around the world. I took it for a spin this morning. Did the world's largest handset maker get it right?

Nokia's Ovi Store recently became available to users of Nokia mobile phones around the world. I took it for a spin this morning. Did the world's largest handset maker get it right?The new application store from Nokia is the cell phone giant's answer to the iPhone Apps Store, the Android Market, RIM's BlackBerry Apps World, and the upcoming Pre Apps Center and Windows Apps Store. The store is live online, and also via some network operators in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.

It isn't available officially through AT&T in the U.S. yet, but is expected to launch later this year for AT&T customers. In the mean time, AT&T subscribers can access the store online and use their credit cards to purchase applications that require a fee.

Head to to get to the home page. What you'll see is a basic web page that lets you search for content. Nokia has a list of its most popular devices, and allows you to sort through content depending on which phone you're using. I selected the E71, which is the Nokia phone I am currently using.

I decided to attempt to register my device. Registering did not work for several reasons. Every user name I typed in was already "taken". The registration process seemed unable to recognize the captchas correctly. It also repeatedly asked me to re-enter my password. Nothing I did worked, so I gave up. That's a bad mark right off the bat.

Navigating the site was extremely slow. I could chalk this up to its initial availability and the excitement I am sure many users are experiencing. Other sites, such as TechCrunch and All About Symbian, have also confirmed that navigation is very slow. How Nokia, the world's largest supplier of mobile phones, could fail to provide adequate bandwidth to handle a lot of traffic for what is such an important launch is beyond me.

Below the main phone selector tool are several ways to search for content, including lists for Applications, Audio & Video, Games and Personalization. Each category has a list of sub-categories underneath it.

Below that are twelve featured applications. These twelve featured apps display the category under which they would normally fall, the app name, and the ratings they are given. Since the store is brand new, most apps have not been rated yet. (Why aren't featured apps more visible? Users need to scroll down to see them at all.)

As you mouse over each app, a pop-up displays more information, including a link to the publisher, a detailed description of the app, pricing information, and a tool to send a download link directly to your phone. This is silly. You shouldn't have to mouse over an app to find out what the price is.

Clicking on an app will (eventually) bring you to a page for that specific app where you can read more information about it. Some of that information includes the size of the application, the ability to report issues, user reviews and a way to determine if your phone is compatible with the application.

One thing I liked is that under the information about that application is a list of related applications that may do the same thing.

You can also choose to have the store recommend applications to you based on the mobile device you are using. You can also sort between free and paid apps.

In all, the experience isn't bad. It could be faster and smoother, and Nokia has to fix the registration/sign-in process if it expects to actually make any money with the store.

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