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May 26, 2009

Nokia to roll out Apple App Store rival

Nokia began rolling out its much-anticipated online software and content store, Ovi Store, as it aims to follow the success of Apple's

App Store.

Nokia said it had started moving Ovi Store to production servers, preparing for the global commercial launch, and the store was opened to users of a few of its phone models in Australia and Singapore on Monday. Nokia has promised to open the store globally this week.

The Apple App Store has proved extremely popular, with one billion applications downloaded in less than a year, and operators and technology firms including Vodafone, Nokia, and Microsoft now want a piece of the pie.

However, analysts say firms will likely struggle to match the success of Apple's store when creating their own stores, hampered by technical issues, a lack of applications and increased competition. "Nokia's Ovi store is a step in the right direction but Apple is still the king of the hill when it comes to selling applications," said Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight.

"The long awaited arrival of Nokia's Ovi Store lacks the blaze of publicity Apple was able to achieve when its App Store burst onto the market -- Nokia is going to have to spend a small fortune on marketing to make consumers aware of what it is offering," Wood said.

Nokia, which made its first ever quarterly pretax loss in January-March, is cutting annual costs at its key handset unit alone by more than 700 million euros ($979.7 million) to counter plunging phone demand.
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