Nokia-Novarra: Ovi for the Masses?

Today Nokia announced it would acquire Novarra, a company that has successfully delivered services designed to enhance the mobile web experience of feature phone users. The company is known for its transcoding platform, which renders web content on the fly to a broad range of feature phones from multiple OEMs and also for its mini browser for feature phones – a rival product to the popular Opera Mini. They offer other services, notably a widget platform based on W3C standards.Their primary market are MNOs, and they count Verizon, Vodafone and U.S. Cellular as customers.

Look for the new Nokia/Novarra business strategy to change.While it is not likely that Nokia will walk away from current Novarra business, the bet here is Nokia/Novarra will concentrate primarily on preloading their mini browser and widget client on Nokia feature phones and somehow tie both back to Ovi, creating an app superstore for both smartphones and feature phones.Nokia knows that to hitch their wagon on app mania, they need a mechanism for expanding apps to feature phones.Most feature phones do not have the processing power or the memory to house many apps.Widgets (web apps) do not require much of either, only needing a sufficient browser to connect the device to the cloud.Preloading their feature phones with mini browsers and the new Nokia widget store would enable them to dominate the feature phone app space.They may encounter some push back from MNOs, but in most markets, the carriers control very little of device distribution, leaving Nokia to do as it pleases.

Not only would this strategy potentially propel the sale of Nokia devices, it would also greatly enhance the scope of Nokia’s vision of becoming a services-oriented company.