By Gabriel Madway
SAN FRANCISCO, March 24 Nokia Oyj's NOK1V.HE much-anticipated Ovi online store will feature some video offerings, although the company does not plan a more full-featured video service.
The world's largest cell phone maker also plans to offer mobile games from its N-Gage gaming service through Ovi, which is set to launch in May. N-Gage is targeted toward serious gamers.
The Ovi store will compete directly with Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) App store and others as they battle to control the emerging smartphone market. [nL818696]
"Now that the Ovi store is coming we can put video content there," Tero Ojanpera, head of entertainment business at Nokia, said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
"Movies will be part of the offering but this kind of a full fledged video store, that is not in our roadmap." On some markets and in some special promotions, Nokia does offer mobile phones with movies pre-loaded.
Last week, rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) launched a service allowing some customers in Europe to buy or rent movies and TV series to download to their mobile phones.
Ojanpera said Ovi users also will be able to buy titles from the gamers-focused N-Gage service, although the company would keep N-Gage as a separate sales channel. In the Ovi store it also will offer more casual games, such puzzles, which attract a wider audience.
"We'll make those N-Gage games, from the discovery point of view, available through the Ovi store," said Ojanpera. "What we are trying to do with the Ovi store is, rather than having all these different channels for discovery, we'll move more and more under this Ovi brand and umbrella."
Ovi will be opened globally in May. Purchasers from Ovi will have the option of paying through their mobile operator's bill in nine countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Spain.
"Towards (the) end of the year you'll see us live ... covering the globe in a fairly equal way," Ojanpera said.
Nokia said the Ovi store will reach some 50 million consumers when it opens, while Apple has so far sold less than 20 million iPhones. However, Apple has been more successful in getting people to pay for software downloads, despite launching its business later than Nokia.
Like Apple, Nokia will give 70 percent of all download revenue to developers if consumers pay by credit card. But Ovi developers will earn less per transaction if buyers elect to pay through their mobile operators.
Ojanpera said content is becoming the "key differentiator" on smartphones, and that mobile gaming is just starting to come into its own. "I think there is a lot of potential...if you look at application downloads, the games are the most downloaded," the executive said.
"In the next 12 to 24 months we'll see a lot of innovation around the mobile gaming market where people are kind of realizing the potential."
(Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helskinki; editing by Carol Bishopric)
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