Nokia’s Ovi Store has overtaken Apple’s App Store as the storefront of choice for mobile developers in emerging mobile markets. But can Nokia leverage its traction in developing economies as Apple and Android build on their momentum in Western markets?

Nokia’s Ovi Store, after stumbling out of the gate last year, appears to have found its rhythm, becoming the storefront of choice for mobile developers in emerging markets. But whether it can turn that success into big money is unclear.

Deemed “a complete disaster” in the wake of its launch last May, the Ovi Store has gained remarkable traction in recent weeks. Nokia last week said the storefront had begun delivering a million downloads a day, and Greystripe — which recently scored another $2 million in funding —  today said it had extended support for its mobile gaming ad network to the Ovi Store. Research In Markets has confirmed the momentum, proclaiming that the Ovi Store has overtaken Apple’s App Store in “crucial high-growth emerging markets” in the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.

That success is getting lost in translation, though, in Western Europe and North America. An executive from the mobile app analytics firm Flurry told me this morning that over the last year building for the iPhone has accounted for roughly 80 percent of developers’ time, while Java — the feature phone platform that Nokia dominates — accounts for only 1 percent. And Flurry has some experience in emerging markets, as it built and distributed email apps for feature phones in developing economies before shifting its focus to higher-end gadgets in more mature markets.

“To me, Nokia’s stated ‘progress’ in developing markets reveals that the company continues to lose ground in key markets; namely, North America, Europe and Japan,” Flurry VP of Marketing Peter Farago told me this morning via e-mail. “Apple is segmenting the high end of the market, rolling up the most desirable and affluent consumers with a handset against which no OEM has successfully competed to date, and that is supported by the power of the App Store (read: 3rd party developer community).  And where Apple may leave any vulnerability, Android is attempting to challenge.”

Nokia’s worldwide footprint remains unchallenged among handset vendors, of course, and its focus on location-aware devices could make it the manufacturer of choice for GPS-enabled handsets. But even as Nokia continues to gain ground in emerging markets, it’s worth asking whether the world minus the U.S. truly is enough.

Image courtesy Flickr user Mr. Wind-Up Bird.

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  1. In emerging markets, the cool gadget to have is the iPhone. It is a status symbol. I have not verified the statistics mentioned in this article but I doubt that Ovi will, over the long term, win over the Apple app store.

  2. In emerging markets, the iPhone is a gadget people may have heard about, along with other high-end Nokias and other phones. What the masses of people can afford and buy are the affordable Nokias and other handsets. Here’s a really good article on phone use in emerging countries: Full-Web Experience? No Thanks, Give Me Symbian Any Day by Rita El Khoury in symbian-guru.com. http://www.symbian-guru.com/welcome/2010/02/full-web-experience-no-thanks-give-me-symbian-any-day.html Here’s a quote: “what good is a full-web experience when I can only open 10 full websites a month without going over my monthly allowance, and when I have to stare at my screen for 15 minutes before one page completely loads on my snail-speed connection?”

  3. Nokia will get attacked on all fronts! at Key Performance Indicators Tuesday, February 2, 2010
  4. Yahoo-Nokia Alliance Is Too Late for Mobile Market Monday, May 24, 2010

    [...] Maps and in Nokia’s Navteq assets, which Nokia purchased in 2007 for $8 billion. And given Nokia’s focus on emerging markets, this alliance brings the Yahoo brand to new places around the world — locations poised for [...]

  5. Nokia World: What To Expect Next Week « Friday, September 10, 2010

    [...] across Nokia’s many hardware offerings. The Ovi store is doing well in emerging markets, but that may not be enough to maintain momentum. The same store or service on one phone is either not available or noticeably different on another. [...]

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