Nokia is finding its feet too late.
Two huge stories have hit the troubled phone maker this week. The first that Nokia is ditching its Ovi brand, the second that Microsoft is about to swoop to buy the company's entire mobile phone business. Are the two true? Are they related? And what does it mean for Nokia?
The first is simple. The news surrounding Ovi is true, with Nokia having confirmed it on its blog. "The main reason for this change is so we can leverage the high-value of the Nokia master brand to better support future plans to deliver disruptive and compelling mobile experiences globally," said Ovi blog editor Pino Bonetti. Interestingly the bold letters are the company's own, illustrating how keen Nokia is to stress: there-is-nothing-to-see-here-move-along.
To an extent this is true. Ovi's services will remain unchanged, they will just be offered under the Nokia name so 'Ovi Music', 'Ovi Maps', 'Ovi Store' and others become 'Nokia Music', 'Nokia Maps', 'Nokia Store', etc. It is hard to fault the logic here. It reduces confusion for mainstream users and refocuses on the company brand. That said what has been swept under the carpet is Nokia having to correct yet another strategy misstep. In short the company had attempted to brand something that didn't need to be branded and the name itself (the Finnish word for 'door') made no sense to the wider world.
On the plus side the Ovi store had reached 5m downloads per day, but that paled into insignificance compared with the 10 billion downloads Apple had managed through its App Store by January. It is a far cry from the bold cries of a 20 000 strong Ovi store app launch in 2009 and follows similar failings such as Ovi Music Unlimited and N-Gage (twice).
Of course it is such troubles which have led to story number two: Microsoft's bid for Nokia's phone business. Unlike dropping Ovi, the story remains rumour at present. It came from Russian industry insider Eldar Murtazin, who has a history of obtaining Nokia prototypes way ahead of release. In the 48 hours since Nokia has denied the story with company spokesperson Mark Squires taking to Twitter to say: "We typically don’t comment on rumors. But we have to say that Eldar’s rumors are getting obviously less accurate with every passing moment."
Maybe, but there are reasons why so many think it is more than a well educated guess…