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Ovi swings to open position

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Nokia's everything store, Ovi, is open for business and sending applications over the air to S60 handsets, with the cost added to the mobile bill or deducted from a pre-paid balance.

The list of supported handsets is increasing every few minutes, with users reporting that the Ovi client has already appeared in the Download! section of S60 handsets, including the XpressMusic 5800 and N95, with others no-doubt soon to follow. Applications can also be ordered on a PC at the Ovi site, and then sent to a handset.

There's not a huge range of content on offer right now, though Nokia has followed through with its promise to provide everything in one store. Applications, music, ringtones and wallpapers are all available, even if not in great quantities. There's also a surprising range of freeware, no-doubt intended to encourage those wary of the downloading experience.

Not that the process is complicated: once the on-device client is installed, selecting and downloading applications is trivial, and if the customer is in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Spain or the UK, then the cost of the content is added to their mobile bill. That's going to prove popular with the network operators, certainly more popular than Apple's "operator-bypass" strategy embodied in iTunes.

Even AT&T is excited by the idea of getting some revenue from selling applications, as evidenced by a canned quote included in Nokia's Ovi announcement from AT&T's chief marketing officer: "AT&T looks forward to introducing Ovi Store for our customers later this year... AT&T has a reputation for providing the most customer choice of content and applications and offering Ovi Store is in line with that strategy." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but important for Nokia's US aspirations nonetheless.

Right now Ovi is being a little sluggish, and the components of Ovi aren't as well integrated as one might hope: move from the store to synchronised contacts and you're expected to log in again - at least the first time you do so. All About Symbian also reports that the touch controls on the 5800 are also not as responsive as one might like, but hopefully these teething issues will be quickly resolved and we'll be able to give you a more comprehensive look at how Ovi shapes up later in the week. ®

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