Nokia and Vodafone in Web 2.0 handset pact

8 Nov 2007

Vodafone and Nokia have joined forces to launch an integrated suite of Vodafone services combined with Nokia’s Ovi social network and content services on a range of Nokia handsets.

Vodafone also intends to make both the Vodafone music service and the Nokia Music Store available on Nokia’s 2008 handsets.

As part of the agreement with Nokia, Vodafone will get first sight of substantial new services and go-to-market propositions developed within Ovi, which means ‘door’ in Finnish.

Nokia says the two companies will make it easier for users to access the internet and online services at a touch of a button.

“Web 2.0 is all about social networking and enabling people to connect with each other in new ways,” said executive vice-president and general manager of Nokia multimedia, Anssi Vanjoki.

“Bringing location and context awareness to Web 2.0 services is the next stage in the web development and Nokia multimedia computers enable people to participate in their favourite internet services on the go.”

Ovum principal analyst John Delaney says it’s clear that Nokia has big ambitions for Ovi.

“When Nokia announced its ‘Ovi’ line of services business a few months ago, we commented on the difficult balancing act it would need to pull off. How could we raise the profile of Nokia as a service provider without alienating the operators upon whom Nokia relies to distribute its products?

“Today’s announcement from Vodafone shows how seriously Nokia is taking this issue, and is a striking indication of how successfully it is being handled,” Delaney explained.

“The world’s biggest mobile operator, by revenue, is to endorse the Ovi brand by exposing it to its own customers. A slightly more cynical take on this deal might also refer to Lyndon Johnson’s famous dictum about having J Edgar Hoover inside his tent, instead of outside (Google it!).

“For Nokia, this builds nicely on the October announcement that Telefonica is to integrate its mobile services with Ovi. We believe that this is a clear endorsement by two leading operators of Nokia’s view: that its push into providing services need not be seen by the mobile operators as a direct threat to their own services strategies.

“Of all the European operators, Vodafone is in the best position to be able to embrace the Ovi brand without damaging its own. Vodafone has invested heavily in building and marketing itself as a content-services brand, since launching Vodafone live! in late 2002.

“Of all the operator portal brands launched around that time Vodafone live! is now clearly the strongest. As a result, Vodafone is able to encompass other strong brands without the risk of putting its own brand in the shade. Earlier this year, for instance, Vodafone launched co-branded services from Google, MySpace and YouTube,” Delaney explained.

By John Kennedy