Ovi (http://www.ovi.com) is Nokia's service brand. Frankly, this is a fascinating trajectory in their strategy. As they push down the path of extending the internet from the desktop to everywhere, they've clearly felt the need to deliver a branded Nokia experience to the consumer. Maps, games, music and other services will all be delivered under the Ovi brand.
Ovi will be rolled out in stages. As Nokia representatives explained in Barcelona this morning, "speed to market with individual services" is the mantra. And so, we have music which is already in beta in the UK, and will go live in parts of Asia and Europe later this year, as well as the newly announced Maps 2.0.
Social networking, however, is the big story today, and that's where the newly announced Share on Ovi service comes to play. Share on Ovi is a personal media sharing and storage service, from desktop or mobile. It's built on open standards, so any connected device can connect to it, and anyone can use it as a sharing or collaboration tool. When I heard about it initially, my reaction was "doesn't flickr / facebook / … you name it do this already?". Nokia's answer is no. With over 100 file types including photos, videos and PDF that can be shared and managed through private and public channels, and republished to blogs, or podcasts, this is a new kind of sharing tool. In fact, not only is it a sharing and collaboration tool, but with the inclusion of editing tools it's also an online content creation site.
As Nokia continues to execute on it's vision of extending the internet beyond the PC, properties like Ovi will play an increasing and critical role in the success of the devices that they sell. In a connected world, as others have discovered, end point devices can sometimes take a back seat to the services that are delivered to them. Ovi won't be a slam dunk for Nokia in this hotly contested space. Their decision to build services that tightly integrate with their devices, however, is a natural strategy to preserve the tremendous market advantage they've already garnered. And, if they can drive content and services plus the devices that create, share, and consume that content they may just achieve their ambition to redefine the Internet as we know it today.