Nokia prepares to bite Apple

Nokia prepares to bite Apple

Handset giant lays down the content and access gauntlet

Nokia has set out its objective to be the service of choice for consumers looking to organise and access social networks and content from mobile devices and PCs.

Announcements at Nokia World 2007 have clearly laid down the gauntlet to other players in the content and access arena, and Apple in particular.

Mike Grant, head of broadband and media at Analysys, said that Nokia is accelerating its shift from device manufacturer to integrated end-to-end consumer service organisation.

The handset giant's 'Comes with Music' service, which offers 12 months' free access to the Nokia music catalogue, is a clear challenge to Apple's success in integrating music with mobile communications.

Nokia's first partner is Universal Music International, which will offer access to its entire catalogue to Nokia customers outside the US.

"Clearly Nokia expects that users will find free music for a year a compelling alternative to iTunes on the iPhone," said Grant.

The analyst also highlighted the further expansion of Nokia's Ovi service into the internet and PC arenas.

Ovi provides access to music, games, social networking, content sharing and mapping services through an on-device Wap portal.

" will provide users with easy access to all their content and the Ovi storefront through a personalised dashboard," explained Grant.

"This portal will also provide easy integration with on-device data such as synchronised contact lists. In short, the service looks very similar to Apple's .Mac service."

Nokia has also developed a PC version of the Ovi dashboard providing integrated access to the same services and personal content.

"Initial screen shots of the beta application give the impression of a user desktop that bears a remarkable resemblance to the desktop environments from Windows or Mac," said Grant.

The analyst believes that Nokia's move is a clear statement that the firm intends to compete head-to-head with Apple and others seeking to be consumers' default personal information and entertainment destination.

"Nokia has stepped ahead of the rest of the industry in bridging the divide between mobility and the internet," said Grant.

"Successful execution appears to be the one remaining challenge. We shall watch the company's progress in 2008 with interest."