Nokia’s OVI.com comes to Kenya.
I almost failed to pick-up the significance of Nokia’s OVI.com launching in Kenya this past week. OVI.com is a relatively new service from Nokia that consolidates a range of mobile applications, music and gaming offerings in a web portal. The launch which was largely carried out in the newspapers, OVI.com enables anyone in Kenya with a compatible Nokia handset to register for 1000 free email messages. OVI.com also lets you access existing mailboxes on services such as Gmail and Yahoo! Email. Clearly, this is only the beginning as OVI.com is so much more than email. The word OVI fittingly means “door” in Finnish where Nokia has its operations headquartered. The launch of OVI.com demonstrates that Nokia is serious about maintaining its relevance in Kenya and the rest of Africa as not only a leading mobile handset manufacturer, but also as a leader in the emerging market for mobile data offerings.
As of this writing, Kenya has almost 18 million mobile subscribers and 4 million internet users (and counting). These impressive numbers point to fertile ground to position OKI.com and Nokia handsets as a de facto mobile data services platforms for the future. What cannot be lost as key drivers in the OKI.com initiative is the recent go live of the SEACOM high speed undersea cable, as well as the soon to be launched TEAMS cable in September 2009. As a result, Kenya now has broadband Internet so the opportunity exists to deliver a whole range of mobile data services to the market and especially to the mobile phone -Â which is fast becoming the first (and possibly only) Internet experience that most Africans will ever have.
I have registered for my OVI.com account today and will play around with it for the next week or two before writing a review on the same. Already, from what I have tried, it looks impressive and is well integrated for both PC and mobile user experiences. I am keen to see how well the mobile email works as well as the mobile maps. In addition, since I currently use a Nokia E63, I’d like to see how the business-focussed applications work such as file sharing, contacts, and calendering. One thing I am already NOT happy about is that OVI.com does NOT have a Mac version of the PC software suite (I use a Macbook) – maybe this is still in the works? Nevertheless, OVI.com is bound to become a major player in Kenya’s mobile data services marketplace, going forward.