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Summary:

There’s plenty of evidence indicating that Nokia has an Ovi-branded web browser in the works, although the company hasn’t officially confirmed the effort. What could Nokia possibly do with such an application when it already has a perfectly good WebKit browser on its phones already?

UPDATED: Nokia appears to have an Ovi-branded web browser in the works, although the company hasn’t officially confirmed the effort. There’s solid evidence such a client exists, however, as Nokia’s Beta Labs site has a password-protected page with the telling URL of http://betalabs.nokia.com/apps/ovi-browser. There’s also an Ovi Browser Twitter account first noticed by ZOMGitsCJ noticed by Clinton Jeff at ZOMGitsCJ Unwired View, as well as alleged confirmation of someone actually using the browser. The question then may not be “is” Nokia is building an Ovi browser, but more a question of why it is building a branded browser when it has an existing browser?

Reportedly, the Ovi Browser is based on WebKit, which makes sense for several reasons. Nokia began to use WebKit for its smartphone browsers in 2005, so changing to another platform would be a change in pattern. And there’s really no reason for Nokia to use a different web platform, especially given that WebKit’s current use on mobile platforms such as iOS4, Android, webOS and soon in BlackBerry handets, makes it currently the dominant browsing technology for mobiles. If Nokia already has a WebKit browser then, there’s a few things that a newly-branded Ovi Browser could bring.

The very branding of an Ovi browser would help Nokia’s Ovi platform gain consumer awareness. And for a company that needs to ramp up service revenues due to falling handset prices, what better way is there than to market the Ovi service store to their customers? It’s also possible that an Ovi browser unifies the existing Ovi services and adds room for new ones in the future. Currently, Nokia offers Ovi Mail, Ovi Messaging, Ovi Contacts and more. Ovi is a platform with many clients, but an Ovi browser could tie all of these services together seamlessly.

Lastly an Ovi browser could be a dual-purpose client for both mobiles and the desktop. Nokia is juggling various platforms — Symbian S60, Symbian^3, and MeeGo — across feature phones, smartphones and eventually netbooks. One web client that syncs preferences, bookmarks and passwords among those devices would make an Ovi browser appealing to owners of multiple Nokia devices.

Update: Apparently, there’s also a fourth way Nokia could use an Ovi Browser — as an Opera competitor on Symbian S40 Series 40 handsets. Nokia just released a beta Ovi Browser for low-end handsets that — like Opera — centrally compresses web data before serving it up on a Symbian S40 Series 40 handset. The company is targeting the right devices to reduce data throughput by up to 90 percent as many S40 Series 40 devices are found in emerging markets where mobile broadband is either scarce or expensive.

http://www.youtube.com/v/QR6UA1IWe1Y&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6

Related GigaOM Pro Content (subscription required):

WebKit is Great, But It Isn’t the Great Unifier

  1. Just to clarify things. The Ovi Browser account was “first noticed” by us over at ZOMGitsCj.com [post url]. Unwiredview even stated it in their article.

    Sorry, but since it was our find, we take a bit of offense at someone stating someone else found it first.

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    1. Sorry about the inadvertant sourcing oversight — it wasn’t clear to me when I read the UnwiredView article. Working to correct that in the post. Thx!

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  2. An Ovi desktop browser? Who the frick is going to use that over Opera, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox?

    This company is lost.

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  3. The page on Nokia Beta Labs for Ovi Browser is now open. And, this is specifically a browser for use on Nokia Series 40 devices – it is not a desktop application. Check it out at:
    https://betalabs.nokia.com/apps/ovi-browser

    Enjoy.

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  4. I saw that the page on Nokia Beta Labs about the new Ovi Browser is now open for viewing. And, to @Theseus below, this is not a desktop application. It is a browser for use on Nokia Series 40 devices.

    Details here: https://betalabs.nokia.com/apps/ovi-browser

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  5. I read this scathing indictment on what passes in the US as mobile telecom punditry (http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2010/07/obituary-for-opk-wall-street-is-a-cruel-mistress-nokia-searching-for-ceo.html). I thought it was a bit over the top. But this article, from a respected US site like GigaOM makes me wonder otherwise. First you make it look like Ovi Browser is some sort of a secret project (reference to “password protected website”) — it is not password protected (anymore). Second, you start talking about “Symbian S40″. S40 is not Symbian! If you don’t know even know the basic product classes of a manufacturer, how can you presume to analyze their strategy, much less pass judgement on them (http://gigaom.com/2010/07/22/nokia-is-still-lost-in-the-woods/)?!?

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    1. You’re quite right about my inadvertent slip on the quick update I added after the post went live – I certainly meant to say Series 40 and I’ll get that corrected. Thanks for that!

      However, the criticism suggesting that Ovi Browser is a secret project is off in terms of timing. Nokia officially announced the beta browser after this post went live, hence the update. ;)

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  6. Nokia’s QT framework uses WebKit (http://doc.trolltech.com/4.6/qtwebkit.html), so presumably the browser will be based on QT. Which would make sense, as QT is already cross-platform and Nokia are working hard to bring it to Symbian, MeeGo, etc.

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    1. Nope, this is for S40 devices, and nothing else.

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      1. Yep, know that now ;-)

        I wrote that as a prediction before they released it, but I was wrong!

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