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August 27, 2008

Why Share on Ovi Is A Non-Starter

by Matthew

Originally Twango, Nokia purchased the service to enable them to become more than just a handset manufacturer. Nokia has been working to offer content and grab piece of the after the sale market. I'd like to use Share on Ovi, I truly would. Unlimited file storage, support for hundreds of file types is great but at the end of the day I find myself frustrated and underwhelmed.

Share on Ovi promises many things but I continue to find my wanting and struggling to find the content I know is there. I've been a Flickr user for several years now, Flickr Pro to be exact. In fact we have a couple paid accounts on Flickr and it would be great not to pay $25 per year for the service that Ovi is promising for free but I can't make the leap.

3rd Party Applications

One of the biggest attractions and advantages to sites such as Flickr are the 3rd party applications. Granted Flickr has had many years to develop their developer base but its been more than a year since Share on Ovi has had their API available and as far as I know there is only ONE 3rd party application, Shozu. One thing that makes sites such as Flickr and Photobucket popular is the ability to blog photos and share content. Looking at Wordpress, Typepad and Blogger there are no simple tools to blog any available content. Flickr allows users to blog a photo directly from the site, even private photos. Share on Ovi makes users publish content publicly before showing an embeddable link to any content.

Exclusively Nokia

Share on Ovi with few exceptions is primarily used by Nokia users, S60 users at that. While Nokia may be the number one device manufacturer in the world, it still leaves more than 50% of the world in the cold. Subtract all the non-S60 users and the population of potential users shrinks even further. If Share on Ovi has any real chance of popularity and therefor success, Share on Ovi will need to gain more widespread acceptance not just among S60 but S40 and non-Nokia handset markets.

Conversion

This one could potentially be accomplished with a 3rd party application, but developers tend to develop where there is a market large enough to be worth their time. The reality of the situation is Nokia is very late in the game when it comes to sharing content. That doesn't automatically mean Nokia doesn't have a chance but to over come the long standing and popular services already in use their product needs to be outstanding, which so far it is not. More importantly there needs to be a way to easily migrate content from a site to Share on Ovi. Nokia is in an uphill battle to gain user support and acceptance, a battle I'd say they are clearly loosing. Without effective tools to win users, Nokia likely won't be popular among user willing to make the change much less the masses. Looking through Share on Ovi most of the users I see are either technically savvy, Nokia Employees, Nokia or S60 bloggers (such as myself, Ricky Cadden or Mark Guim). I don't see many what you'd call regular users. Even many bloggers and die hard Nokia and S60 users aren't using Share on Ovi. If Nokia can't convert its core user base even its advocates, what chance do they have?

Ease of use

Assuming Nokia manages to gain some 3rd party applications, recruit non-Nokia users and conversion tools, if the site isn't easy and intuitive its not going to succeed. The fact that I have to try to like Share on Ovi speaks volumes. I find myself frustrated when trying to check out my friends (what few that post to Share on Ovi) photos or videos I usually find myself empty handed. The site isn't intuitive at all. The link to see all my contacts' content, new or old is in a single obscure, non-obvious location on the home page but why should I have to hunt for something seemingly so simple. Browsing around Share on Ovi feels like I am stumbling in the dark, something no service provider should want. I signed up for the ambassador program Nokia was promoting but found it hard to talk about a service I, myself, can barely use. I can't make myself promote a product I don't honestly believe in (one of the reasons I'm not in sales).

International Restrictions

Some of this can be contributed to carrier relations, as some carriers see Ovi as direct competition. Jonathan Greene was just recently in Dubai, where Share on Ovi is either blocked by the carrier or Nokia.  Carriers in the UK were quite upset by the launch of Nokia's Music Store, another portion of Ovi. Dotsisx has been vocal on Jaiku about Share by Ovi's intermittent availability in Lebanon. While it could be argued the carriers aren't justified limiting services from a consumer stand point, from a business perspective I can understand why they are upset. Nokia is in effect doing an end run around their own services, potentially making a big dent in their own bottom line. As a consumer I would tell the carriers they should be more attentive and competitive then it wouldn't be a problem. If I can buy a complete song on iTunes for $0.99, why are ringtones of the same song, which is maybe 30 seconds, $1.99 or more from the carrier?

Bottom line, try as I might I just can't make myself use Share on Ovi. Part of me says no matter how much money Nokia pumps into the service, eventually they are going to see the light and dump the service. Best case scenario Nokia will sell or spin off the services portion to a separate company, defeating the integrated solution Nokia is aiming to provide and make a profit from. Worst case the service closes its doors leaving users in the lurch. I do wish Nokia the best in their endeavor and hope they will succeed because the service does have value and potential.

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Comments

Furie

I've been using Ovi to host my files for a few months now and it's going great. Photos, even private ones, can be embedded in a blog post easily enough. Just find the link to the actual image (using Opera Mini I have to find where to download the large size image then save the link from that, but it should be much easier for PC users) and use it in your post with basic BB code or HTML. Videos and other file types do have to be public to be linkable though.

As for carriers in the UK not wanting Music Store and other things on their handsets, well there's a reason why more and more phone users here are getting their new phones SIM free and unbranded, rather than on contract. We're fed up of 3 locking us to 3g networks even in places where there's no coverage but plenty of 2g coverage. We're fed up of T-mobile taking FOTA capabilities out of handsets. And everyone's fed up of O2 even though they don't brand their handsets.

Ravindra

To me Share on OVI is very useful and I use it very frequently,especially with the XP web publishing wizard support it rocks

dani2xll

Tried ovi for the first time yesterday actually before i read this article. It was easy to set-up but oh so hard to manage. I am limited to uploading only 6 images at a time. I have nearly a hundred having just returned from holiday and going mad with the n82. Also i cant get a link to the image alone. What i do get is the image loading on a phone with the image being unseen further down the page because the screen is full of the resize options for users to choose their preference. Alternatively if i give them a direct link to my ovi share images it means the page loading as full as if on a pc, when all i want to do is for people to see a snapshot of the image. Anyways the limite of 6 and the rest of the above sent me back temporarily to flickr just to load 6 images with direct links to them. And now in process of opening a shozu account. I think Ovi needs much more work to be done on it and perhaps take a leaf out of shozu's book.

Mr. Scruff

To be honest, I can't make much objective sense of what you're saying Darla! It's easy enough to upload content from your Nokia phone, 3rd party apps and feeds (which share your content to and from Ovi like the Facebook app) from 3rd party websites and Nokia direct are forthcoming to make sharing even easier. It's not just restricted to Nokia users or S60 users - but you do need a decent phone with a decent web browser if you're not Nokia/S60 you want to use the service when you're not at your desktop/laptop... it's open to all but it's not a service to tie the user in exclusively... I see it, as always with Nokia that it's a choice, an alternative. And the overarching strategy is to give people the ability to have all their on-line asssets in one place (easily accesssible with the Nokia Account service for example) so... you'll have your feeds/widgets from all your social network sites, your photo sites, your social music sites
once all of the separate parts of Ovi are implemented...it's not to stop you using Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm etc. It's meant to bring it all together *for* you... it's meant to be a benefit regardless of where your favourite stuff is at or what your preferred service is...it just has similar services available to use direct if you wish. The things not even out of beta at the moment!

Share is just one element of Nokia's Music, Maps, Games social networking, internet services and software strategy so I wouldn't hedge any bets on Nokia 'dumping' the service anytime soon. They have a three strikes policy for any venture anyway... it has to fail twice before they give it a final go based upon the lessons they learn from 1 or 2 tries.

In terms of the carrier restrictions and the international problems... the places you mention are pretty touchy when it comes to content so I wouldn't rail at Nokia for respecting other countries customs and culture... if something has to be pulled because it may potentially be very offensive, what are they supposed to do? That's got to be difficult with publicly generated content. And the carriers overprice everything, laughably so most of the time but I don't think that's really any of Nokia's business as the vendor... Furie's right people are sick of the phone companies and their so-called 'services'... it's a good bet that's probably one of the top reasons Nokia are pursuing this tack with their business.

Phil

it's like this.

Build something for the community, build the community up, empower them. Dropping a site on the net and saying upload here is not working closely with the community. Social media, it's like garlic bread for tech. No api, clunky uploads, confusing process even for hardcore geeks - so what chance do newbies have?

Start from scratch. Think of a better web2.0 - re-engage. And quickly, apple is all over the place. :)

P.S - i do have an iphone 3g too. so i know. :)

John

I have to say I'm sorry to see anyone having difficulty. A lot of the UI was inherited so give it some time and hopefully they can make it more user friendly.

This service is linked into Ovi Suite and allows you to drag and drop from your PC. For the user with the N82 wanting to upload a lot, use the phone as a USB mass storage and the multiple file upload tool (Java based) from the web page on your PC. I just uploaded 35 items at one time using this. I've heard there are some changes coming to Share Online that will address this as well.

I truly hope someone at Nokia is reading this and is taking your concerns to heart ;)

Kevin Neely

@dani2xll try using either Nokia Photos or the java-based file uploader. I just discovered that Photos has a limit of 50 at a time, but you can actually initiate multiple instances of uploads, so this isn't quite as bad as I originally thought.

I have to disagree with Darla's conclusion. I am not a Flickr Pro user, but I do not find the regular flickr experience to be all that great. There are things I like better than Ovi, but there are aspects of Ovi I like better than Flickr. I have to say that using my phone to watch videos on Ovi is a great experience and can be really cumbersome and annoying on other sites. Also, embedding pictures singly or as a slideshow in a blog is trivial.

OviShare may never be strictly better than Flickr or PicasaWeb, and I do not think it has to, so long as it continues to improve and works well with my mobile device of choice, I will continue to use it.

matthew bennett

I think Nokia is on to something big with Ovi. Yes it's going to piss off the carriers, because it makes a lot of their services worthless. Yes, the initial implementation is a bit awkward. But it just might work.

Having this kind of software built into the phone at purchase time is going to help it's uptake. Many users worldwide will access the internet for the first time on a mobile device. Ovi + LifeviNe will are making it easy to create content without touching a PC.

As for third party apps, RSS feeds are a good start. Nokia's history of using open standards speaks well. Ovi is a great start at transforming Nokia into an internet company. Now tighen it up, and give us more features!

Shiraz Cupala

Hi Darla,

I'm the product manager for Share on Ovi and I saw your post from last summer. I wanted to drop you a line about some of the changes in Share on Ovi. Over the past 3 months have released a enhancements to the service. A few of the highlights include:

+ Emphasis on Personal Sharing - New home-page focused on media you've uploaded with a feed-like display of media and comments shared with you.

+ Improved Mobile Site - Overhauled mobile web site to provide key viewing and management functions while on the go, again with a focus on personal media and sharing.

+ Contextual Presentation - Map view of media in a channel to see media with geotags in a geographical context.

+ Device Integration - Share on Ovi is now shipping on some of Nokia's best selling devices including the N78, 6220 Classic, E71 and more.

These improvements are just a start and certainly don’t account for all the feedback we’ve received. We will be evolving the service over the coming months to make it even easier to capture and share media from your mobile. Please keep the feedback coming!

Sincerely,
Shiraz

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