Nokia Lumia exclusives led by Angry Birds deal
Vendor announces series of content and software deals to differentiate its smartphones, but risks fragmenting WP7 base
Published: 9 May, 2012
Nokia and Microsoft know the success of their Windows Phone partnership will rely heavily on applications support. Like any platform which is not iOS or Android, they need to push the 'quality not quantity' line, and secure exclusive or eye-catching deals. Nokia claims to be making progress here, announcing a series of new partnerships including one with Rovio, whose Angry Birds series has proved a valuable weapon to various vendors in the past.
"We are focused on delivering great, locally relevant apps and, importantly, those which offer unique, exclusive and original experiences," said Marco Argenti, Nokia's SVP for developer experience. Argenti has been vocal about how the Finnish firm, despite moving away from Symbian, will still harness some of the expertise it gained via that developer program, notably its strong support for localized content and languages, particularly in developing economies, which are sometimes ignored by the major platforms.
However, while Nokia can easily field distinctive apps for India or Indonesia, where its Life Tools range has made its mark, it finds it harder to stand out from the crowd in the US, where it is pursuing perhaps its last chance at major success with the Lumia 900 launch. Here, high impact applications will be important, but it is an uphill battle to lure developers from the sheer scale of Apple App Store or Google Play. Windows Phone currently offers about 80,000 apps.
The headline among the new alliances is that Rovio is building a dedicated design and development team to create games for Nokia's Lumia devices. "Nokia and Rovio will partner to develop innovative new consumer products and content exclusively for Nokia Lumia smartphones, alongside cross-platform, multi-channel integrated marketing initiatives," the Finnish firm said in a statement.
The Angry Birds are the world's most popular mobile games, with 648m downloads last year.
In March, Rovio launched the fourth iteration, Angry Birds Space, for Android and iOS, andn it became the world's fastest growing mobile game, achieving 50m downloads within 35 days. WP7 currently supports only the first instalment, but now it will get all the versions, as well as the new content, and future ones will arrive in the same timeframe as the big two platforms, or at least "as soon as possible", as a more cautious Rovio executive put it.
Other new Nokia partnerships include those with Groupon, which has pledged an exclusive Lumia upgrade to its WP7 app, allowing location data to be combined with what is seen through the handset's camera; Electronic Arts, for a range of games; and PayPal, which will develop payment services. Initial exclusives to Lumia are the PGA Tour app, with a 12-month exclusive from June; ESPN Hub, exclusive until May 2013; the updated Groupon app on a six-month pact from summer; and the AOL Entertainment Hub, also a Nokia exclusive for six months.
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