Nokia aims for 'radical' app store growth

22 September 2010

HELSINKI: Nokia aims to improve its R&D programme and attract more third-party developers to its app store, following boardroom changes at the firm.

Rich Green, the handset maker's new chief technology officer, said that he wants to "radically grow" both the firm's "developer community" and the contents of its app store.

Achieving these goals could help Nokia regain ground lost to rivals including Apple's iPhone and Google, which makes the increasingly popular Android operating system.

Stephen Elop, who became the firm's new ceo this week, has also previously stated that his priority is "developers, developers, developers".

Nokia has had mixed success with apps since launching its Ovi Store in May 2009.

Figures from March 2010 show that an average of 1.5m apps were being downloaded from the outlet each day.

By way of comparison, figures from September 2009-January 2010 show that typical downloads from Apple's App Store stood at 30.5m per day.

Nokia currently spends $7.7bn (€5.9bn, £5bn) a year on R&D, meaning it has the largest research budget of all mobile phone makers.

Green indicated that the department - which encompasses a variety of research teams, joint ventures with both universities and tech firms such as Yahoo, and the standalone Nokia Research Center - would be streamlined going forward.

He compared the current job of directing the research globally to "herding cats", adding that Nokia needs to "focus the charter in specific areas to one locale instead of smearing the responsibility for a given task or product across too many regions".

Meanwhile, industry experts have suggested that Nokia will need to downsize its R&D department.

Bengt Nordstroem, ceo of Northstream, a consultancy, commented: "Something's not working when the people who have the biggest budget and the most resources cannot translate that strength into something that means something to customers."

Nokia announced earlier this year that profits for Q2 2010 had reached $278m.

This represents a year-on-year drop of around 40%.

Data sourced from Bloomberg/Mobile Crunch/Nokia; additional content by Warc staff