Nokia has opened the Ovi Store, where owners of around 50 different Nokia devices can download applications, games, videos and podcasts.
The store, first announced in February, consolidates existing services, including Download!, MOSH and WidSets into a one-stop-shop for free and paid content. The store offers 20,000 different items, and can be accessed by around 50 million Nokia device owners, the company said.
Visitors to the store can choose to view all items, or only those compatible with their phone. The necessary software client is available in English, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. There is support for operator billing in the UK, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Singapore and Spain. In the rest of the world users will pay with credit cards.
US mobile operator AT&T will offer integrated support for the Ovi store later this year, Nokia said.
The key challenges for Nokia will be making consumers aware of the store, and generating developer interest: both will require significant advertising, according to Ben Wood of analyst firm CCS Insight.
The opening of the store is a step in the right direction for Nokia, allowing it to compete with Apple's iPhone App Store and Research In Motion's BlackBerry App World, Wood said.
The Ovi Store site crashed during its first hours of business, according to Wood, who wonders if it's just a temporary glitch or if Nokia has underestimated the complexity of launching an application store.