Nokia’s decision to kill off the Ovi brand and rename its apps, maps and web offerings as Nokia Services has been a long time coming. When the name was first touted in 2007, assembled hacks and mobile watchers seemed bamboozled by what the service actually was.
Espoo did a poor job in explaining just what it meant for users, hence it was treated as something of a novelty, a feature that was designed to challenge the then-nascent iOS, but which lacked any sort of clarity.
It wasn’t until Ovi Mail and the Ovi Store landed in 2009 that anyone was able to make sense of what Nokia was getting at: an internet services package to rival Google and Apple. To be fair, each of those offerings is well thought-out, as is the free, excellent Ovi Maps.
But ask any average mobile user (that is, the man on the street), what Ovi is and they’d undoubtedly give you a blank look.
Nokia’s Chief Marketing Officer Jerri DeVard says of the change: “We have made the decision to change our service branding from Ovi to Nokia.
“By centralising our services identity under one brand, not two, we will reinforce the powerful master brand of Nokia and unify our brand architecture – while continuing to deliver compelling opportunities and experiences for partners and consumers alike.”
He’s not wrong. But this is only happening now because of Nokia’s tie-up with Microsoft, which will see the newly named Nokia Services sitting pretty on Windows Phone 7 handsets.
Maps, Nokia’s strongest suit with Ovi, is going to go a long way in helping Windows Phone stand up to Android. With Apple plotting its own mapping service too, this simple rebranding is already looking very smart indeed.
This is just about the best thing Nokia has done since Stephen Elop issued his “burning platform” rallying call back in February. Choosing Windows Phone 7 as its exclusive smartphone OS provider remains fraught with danger, but at least this will give top-end and feature phones a more unified look.
Ordinary users don’t know what Ovi is, but they know exactly what Nokia is and what it stands for. The question is, why wasn’t this done sooner?
Ovi always sounded like Nokia trying to be too clever for its own good. Perhaps by keeping things simple, there’s a chance it’ll still be able to compete at the top table.