Nokia kills Ovi brand for mobile services

Nokia will abandon its Ovi mobile services brand as it prepares to sell smartphones based on Microsoft’s Windows Phone software, it said in a blog posting on Monday.

Starting with services on some new Nokia phones in July and August, Ovi services will be rebranded as Nokia services in a transition that the company expects will continue into next year, according to a blog post. For example, Ovi Maps will become Nokia Maps.

It is only a name-changing exercise and the services will continue as before. It’s likely that anybody buying a new Nokia smartphone or mobile phone later this year will see the new branding on services included on them. Users that already own a Nokia phone will see the new branding through future software updates, Nokia said.

The Ovi services brand was born in 2007, and has seen it fair share of problems. Nokia’s answer to Apple’s App Store, the Ovi store couldn’t cope with demand on opening day. However, insufficient demand seems to have put an end to another Ovi service in some countries: In January the company said it would stop offering Ovi Music Unlimited in 27 of the 33 countries where it operated.

The abandonment of Ovi is an admission that the stand-alone brand has failed, and will now act as a way to reduce consumer confusion as the partnership with Microsoft grows, CCS Insight wrote in a research note.

The reasons for this decision includes the fact that Nokia is a well-known brand the world over, Nokia’s chief marketing officer Jerri DeVard said in the blog post.

The change is the first “bold move” made by DeVard since she joined the company in January, according to CCS Insight. Nokia’s brand is not as a today as it was five years ago, but it still carries a lot of resonance in emerging markets, said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.

Since Nokia announced its intention to move to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone operating system, the company has made a number of changes, including outsourcing its Symbian software activities to Accenture and transferring 3,000 employees to the consulting company in the process.

However, the company hasn’t yet said when the first Nokia Windows smartphone will arrive. The company won’t divulge ship dates until closer to when the first phones arrive, but the pressure is on to deliver the devices this year, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said when the company announced its first quarter results.

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