London: Nokia used to be just a cellphone maker. Google used to be just an Internet company.Now Nokia wants to be an Internet company and Google, according to rampant speculation among bloggers and technology analysts, may be about to enter the mobile phone fray.
“Devices alone are not enough anymore,” Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief executive of Nokia Corp., said last week in London as the firm announced plans for a digital music store, a game service, social networking links and other mobile Internet initiatives, grouped under a new brand, Ovi. “People want more; they want the complete experience.”
Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson declined to comment on reports that a “Google phone”, or “G-phone”, was imminent. Such a device would take the Internet firm into a business that has long been dominated by Nokia, but that has been shaken up by the recent introduction of a high-profile newcomer, Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
Apple is also expected to make news this week, having scheduled a product announcement for Wednesday with the teasing line, “The beat goes on”.
Analysts say Apple may introduce anything from upgraded iPod music players to a deal to sell The Beatles music on the iTunes digital music store.
As the likes of Apple, Nokia and, perhaps, Google move to give mobile users “the complete experience”, they are bound to overlap more and more not just with each other, but with others in the mobile business.
“This is the downside of convergence,” said Paul Jackson, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “All of these players want a bit of everyone else’s market—device makers, network operators, content owners. They can’t dictate to a consumer when they should consume a content product. But if they control more of the end-to-end experience, they can benefit from these decisions.”
The eagerness of all these companies to increase their involvement in mobile media may seem surprising, given that it remains a relatively small market.
Music sold directly to wireless devices, rather than downloaded first to a PC, accounted for about $1 billion (Rs4,642 crore) in revenue last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Interestingly, much of that was concentrated in a few Asian markets.
And ringtones, rather than full-track song downloads, still make up a substantial portion of those sales.