Monday, June 16, 2008

Nokia Download on the Web.. ?

If you've been watching Nokia Beta Labs, you'll have seen Nokia's attempt to expand Download! into a web shop. All very well and good, but hardly unique and it's ultimately just another place to download commercial demos and a few Nokia utilities from, before side-loading them in from a PC. Why has Nokia bothered, given that they already have a far better distribution system in Download! on each device? Read on for my thoughts...

The problem for years, ever since the days of Psion, has been how to engage average users with extra software. Us geeks love seeking new stuff out, downloading it to our PCs and then installing to a smartphone from there. But that's way too much effort for the man in the street.

Nokia recognised this when they set up Download! catalogs on every single S60 device shipped, a full couple of years before Apple and their iPhone AppStore. Every user goes into Download!, finds a selection of guaranteed-compatible apps and installs with a single click ('Get'). What could be simpler? Nothing, which is why both Download! and AppStore on the smartphones themselves are such a great idea. In practice, however, Nokia has been very slow to stock Download! on many devices, especially those bought through operators - but I'll let this slide for now.

So why oh why are Nokia wasting manpower on reinstating the web-shop/side-loading system? Why bother at ALL? Instead, far better to invest all those man hours into improving and re-stocking Download! on the devices (through their back-end Download! servers). And while you're at it, how about adding some of the leading freeware and shareware from smaller developers?

When I pick up a device, rather than having to go rooting through my hard disk or go on the Web to find stuff to install, wouldn't it be easier to just browse through Download!, adding all my favourites as I went, on device and with no complications or hassle?

Apple's iPhone AppStore has been hailed as a revolution. But the revolution is really that they were confident enough to make a song and dance about it - whereas Nokia has seemed almost embarrassed to talk about Download! at times.

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