Nokia will do all it can to enhance the Windows Phone 7 experience when it comes to software as well as hardware, Marco Argenti, senior vice president of Developer and Marketplace at Nokia told Pocket-lint in a one-to-one briefing in London:
“Windows Phone 7 doesn’t need us to add more layers," he said. "But we will work hard to enhance areas like mapping, commerce and discovery.”
The move will see the company create a number of dedicated apps for the platform - and not just for use with its phones, but, surprisingly, others from HTC, Samsung and LG too.
It’s something that, so far, other phone makers have steered away from, having their own dedicated area within the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace in order to encourage consumers to buy their phones over other models. Nokia, however, is breaking away from that model:
“Every Nokia App will be available on every phone,” insisted Argenti.
But surely there will be exceptions? A pause is followed by the acknowledgement that while the apps will work with any phone, some will be exclusive for Nokia users for a set time. Or, when it comes to things like mapping, they will be heavily built into the OS, making it hard for a HTC user to nab it.
Maps is going to be one of the key battlegrounds for Nokia.
In our meeting in a quirky hotel in Victoria, just a stone's throw from Microsoft’s London headquarters, Argenti talked up the company’s mapping solution, promising much, but sadly giving us little detail to share.
What does appear apparent though, is that the experience will be akin to what mobile Ovi Map users have now, with a big play on discovery, 3D mapping, and getting the information you need out of the OS. Bing maps will be playing second fiddle on the Finnish company’s devices.
“Maps is one area we really want to improve,” added the man in charge of 700 staff around the world and responsible for managing everything from the creation of apps to the selling of them on not only Windows Phone 7, but MeeGo and Symbian.
“I won the lottery on that one,” he claimed, after we comment that it sounds like a tough job. “But it’s got a lot easier since the announcement.”
That “announcement” refers to the agreement signed between Nokia and Microsoft in February, which will see the operator adopt Windows Phone 7 as well as Symbian.
“Since the announcement, developers have really embraced Windows Phone 7. The app store is now growing by over 1,000 apps a week and we are actively going after companies that already have a good Symbian offering to get them to create a Windows Phone 7 app,” said Argenti.
His job has got simpler too: “It’s much easier to get an audience, especially in the US.”
It seems Microsoft has a new friend. It’s certainly not something we’ve heard Samsung, LG or HTC doing.
But, it’s not just about getting plenty of apps in store to stack those shelves. Nokia is keen to help people buy them, and help people discover them too.
On the commerce side of things, Nokia is going to be implementing the ability to buy apps through the operator.
It already has deals in 191 countries to do just that and, combined with NFC technology (a virtual given for the new phones it makes), Nokia hopes the idea of not only buying apps but also a cup of coffee, and having them all charged to your monthly operator bill will be something that people are keen to enjoy.
That’s a move that is going to make the operators very happy, and open up a whole market of new shoppers who don't have credit cards, or don’t want the extra hassle of providing details to Microsoft.
On the discovery side, Argenti is keen to help developers get seen. Nokia will use a dedicated area on the phone to highlight local developers: “We don’t want to branch the experience, but there are many cases where a local app might be the best in that country, but doesn't get the coverage it deserves because it’s not big globally,” he said.
If that does work, and there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t as Nokia has employed the same tactics for its music service in the past, developers could get the extra push they need.
Apple, Google and Microsoft know how hard it is to get people to discover new apps and this might just be the ticket.
As for whether or not the Nokia Windows Phone 7 device will ditch the hardware keys altogether, Argenti isn’t telling. He did, however, hint that the N9 [and therefore “Sea Ray” leaked prototype] shows off plenty of ideas and features that the company is working on and that each device they create will look at what is needed for the task at hand.
What is certain, is that Argenti is very much the man in charge of how Nokia will create it’s Windows Phone 7 software offering, and that the company isn’t just leaving it all up to the hardware boys to tempt you into switching to the Microsoft platform.