What is it?

Ovi Store is the recently launched online application store from Nokia, containing content for use with their Symbian operating system based handsets.

This is the very latest in a line of online application repositories for a particular mobile phone range and its own OS. Google has a similar venture for their Android mobile OS, as does Apple for the iPhone. All of which has proven to be very successful, on both driving sales of the content and the phones themselves.

What are the variations of the technology?

There is just the one Ovi Store, so there really aren’t any variations, although there is the main site and a small downloadable application, both of which can be used to access the stores items. How the Ovi Store varies over other mobile phone app stores is, however, interesting, as from its launch there is the greatest number of devices supported and the greatest number of individual handsets.

It’s been said that over 50 million mobile phones will be able to access the store, with over 50 different models of Nokia handsets all being able to use it as well. There’s also no cost to access the app store, or even develop applications, unlike Apple’s store.

Why should I care?

The Ovi Store is the equivalent of Apple’s popular app store for the iPhone and iPod touch, only it’s for Nokia’s own handsets and mobile phone operating system.

Content on the store has been written specifically for the Nokia OS Symbian, where the site can be accessed from the handsets browser at store.ovi.com. As with other app stores, there are both free and paid-for items catering for all, only Nokia has the highest available quantity of them at launch.

It’s been said there were over 20,000 items, which is the highest amount for any app store at the get go, compared to other offerings by other handset manufactures. These items range from the likes of games, videos and podcasts, with applications for all types of users and there is even location based content. Nokia has the largest amount of Flash supported devices around to date, meaning the possible items could be rather rich in terms of their multimedia experience.

They are all easy to download and use, with their sheer number being very high indeed. In the past the content offered for Nokia handsets was not as numerous, often being troublesome to install.

There is also content from launch to localised individual countries, with a variety of different language versions of the store all available too.

Items on offer for the user can also be suggested at the Ovi Store based on past selections, social connections and even the location of where the user is located. This differs greatly from other app stores around, as they do not currently provide such a mix of diversity.

It’s also been said that paid-for items could even be billed straight to the network or operator, besides from a credit card account. It’s unsure which operators and in what countries will support the first method, but the latter will be available to all.

Versions of the Symbian operating system, such as the Series 40 and Series 60 will all have access to the store by going to the browser or by installing the stores application. The upcoming N97 will have this software already built in at the time of arrival, making the ease of use even greater than other Nokia handsets.

What's a good example in practice?

A good example is seen by visiting the store online itself, where there’s content available to suit all tastes with a wide diversity of items on offer. There is a small application to be installed upon the handset for easy access, or just visiting the website will suffice.

Presumably all networks will provide access to the app store, if not right away then in time, with only a few already making public statements over this.

Is there a competing technology that I should be aware of?

The application store has been a great success, with most handset manufactures having their own bespoke store for their own individual phones and OS’s.

Apple has had an application store, full of software and other items, with well over 35,000 in total and all for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Google has more recently opened up the Android Market place, which offers up similar content, its limited phones running the mobile operating platform. Research In Motion now has an app store, becoming more popular with each passing day with the BlackBerry phones.

This now means that nearly all of the largest phone vendors have a store of similar ilk, accessible through a browser from their phone or by other means.

What is in store for the future?

What’s next for the Ovi Store is more content and more upcoming handsets all having the application on board, plus ease of access and availability to the store and greater support for older handsets.

Nokia is aiming to reach 300 million handsets by 2012, which is their target figure of existing and upcoming handset launches by the time that year comes around.

They are also making available services for the publishing of users' own content through the Nokia Ovi Store. This feature will offer and open up its abilities for all developers to create, market and monetise their own content in a way that’s already been seen on other stores.

Potentially, this has the reach to allow software writers to deliver content to hundreds of millions of people and with well over 4 million registered developers it’s set to be successful.