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Following various Net reports doing the rounds this week regarding the official unveiling of Nokia’s new Internet service, the Finnish mobile phone giant duly delivered yesterday by whipping the covers off Ovi, the company’s new Internet brand name.

Wednesday’s introduction of the multi-faceted Ovi (‘door’ in Finnish) marks a significant move by Nokia to expand its market reach from mobile devices through to a wide range of Internet-based services. Nokia claims that Ovi will enable its customers to conveniently access their "existing social network, communities and content, as well as acting as a gateway to Nokia services."

Included in the Ovi services package are also the new Nokia Music Store, which will bypass usual network operator delivery, and also the revamped and re-launched N-Gage gaming platform, both of which Nokia says will allow for the easy assessment and purchase of music and games "from a blockbuster range of artists and publishers." Ovi also includes Nokia Maps, which delivers a navigation service, maps, city guides, and more through compatible Nokia mobile devices.

As expected, Ovi was officially announced by Nokia’s President and CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, at yesterday’s Nokia Go Play event in London, during which Mr. Kallavuo outlined that:

"The industry is converging towards Internet driven experiences and Ovi represents Nokia's vision in combining the Internet and mobility. Nokia is the number one mobile device company in the world. Looking into the future, we will deliver great devices, combined with compelling experiences and services, to make it easy for people to unlock the potential of the Internet.

"We started this journey with our navigation services earlier this year and we are now combining all our services into a single branded offering - Ovi by Nokia. Over the coming 12 months, you will see us integrate new user interface elements, service suites and web communities to Ovi."

Looking a little more closely at the Nokia Music Store and N-Gage platforms reveals that the former will offer "millions of tracks from major artists" as well as independent labels and a broad range of local artists from around the world. Accessible via PC or through a Nokia handset such as the new Nokia N81 or Nokia N95 smartphone multimedia computer, users will be able to browse, buy (single tracks or complete albums), create mobile playlists, and add tracks to wish lists for later retrieval.

The store will open across key Europe regions during Q3, with other EU territories and Asia due to arrive in the months following the initial roll out. Tracks will cost from €1,00 while albums will be priced from €10,00. A monthly subscription fee of €10,00 is also included for PC streaming. While those ‘starting’ prices are not quite as strong as the ‘standard’ prices found on the likes of iTunes, it remains to be seen whether DRM copy protection is missing as a core component of Nokia’s Music Store content, which could help make the slightly higher price more attractive.

Similarly, the re-imagined N-Gage service will allow users to purchase quality videogames directly through their Nokia device. They will also be able to connect with friends, read game reviews, download demos of specific games, and preview available releases. Videogame creators such as Electronic Arts and Gameloft are already bringing some of their most prominent gaming brands through to the N-Gage, which is expected to make its official appearance in November of 2007.

Beyond the specific services on offer through the Nokia Music Store, N-Gage, Nokia Maps, and others yet to arrive, Ovi also allows its users to open the door to Web-based communities, content, and contacts all from a compatible Nokia mobile device or a PC system. Ovi is currently scheduled for its official launch (in English) in Q4 of 2007, with additional content features and further language interfaces expected to arrive before the close of Q2 2008.


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