Nokia started the rollout of its Ovi Store this weekend, first launching in Singapore, and then slowly adding additional countries, such as Australia, Ireland and Spain. By early morning, it was live around the world. Back at Nokia’s offices, George Linardos (pictured, right), one of the central figures behind the launch, was watching a world map on a flat-screen TV. As each individual used the store, a green light blinked on in that country. The spots were sporadic at first, but now the world has a steady glow with people in 109 countries using the service, he told mocoNews in an interview today. The rollout was not without glitches. As the traffic ramped up, performance problems ensued, but were mostly resolved early in the day.
The Ovi Store is important for Nokia as it goes head-to-head with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which in less than a year has racked up more than a billion downloads and now offers more than 35,000 apps. It’s unclear how Nokia will stack up, especially with increasing competition coming from BlackBerry, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Microsoft. On one hand, it has size — it is a behemoth in mobile. But that also has its downsides. While every app in Apple’s store works on every iPhone, Nokia’s store at launch is much more complicated. It supports more than 60 devices, comes in five languages and has support for operator billing in eight countries. If any company has the scale and dedication to deal with this potential fragmentation, perhaps it is Nokia (NYSE: NOK). Linardos: “We