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Nokia Makes It Easier to Create, Distribute Apps for its Symbian Smartphones

Developers should find it easier and more profitable to build apps for what is still the world's largest swath of smartphone users.


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Thanks to a series of improvements in developer tools that Nokia announced last week at Nokia World in London, developers should find it easier and more profitable to build apps for what is still the world's largest swath of smartphone users.

"We have made it much simpler, removed obstacles and made it more lucrative for people to build apps for our phones," said Purnima Kochikar, vice president, Forum Nokia. "We believe that this will convince more developers to build apps for the millions of people, in more than 190 countries, that are using the Ovi Store on their Nokia devices."

[login] (For more on Symbian and other leading smartphones, check DevX's Special Report: Field Guide to the Mobile Development Platform Landscape.)



As handset margins shrink, Nokia recognizes that much of the next-generation of wireless growth will flow from mobile applications, which are becoming increasingly important in attracting consumers in the high-end smartphone market.

In fact, the world's largest handset maker is positioning mobile applications at the center of its efforts to make up ground lost to rivals Apple and Google. .

The importance of applications and the people who create them was underlined by Nokia's incoming CEO Stephen Elop, who spoke at the closing ceremony of Nokia World.

Elop recycled the famous mantra of his former boss Steve Ballmer "developers, developers, developers" to emphasize the vital role developers play in building the ecosystem Nokia needs to compete around the world. Elop left his job as Microsoft's business unit chief just a week before Nokia World.

Most of the vendor's tool improvements are in the Nokia Qt Software Development Kit (SDK). The biggest improvement is a 70-percent reduction in the number of lines of code needed to develop for the company's family of Symbian smartphones. Qt is pre-installed on all new Nokia smartphones and downloadable to millions of smartphone users.

Equally concerned about market erosion and market development, Nokia needs to retain and attract developers to distribute apps to millions of Nokia Symbian smartphones.

By simplifying Nokia Qt SDK and drastically cutting the lines of code for development, the vendor has created an easy-to-use tool that should help it achieve the above goal, while enabling developers to slash development time and cost.

The Qt SDK should also enable developers to future-proof their apps by easily adapting them to run on future mobile platforms such as MeeGo, while taking advantage of additional features or APIs those platforms bring.

Nokia also announced efforts to enhance monetization opportunities for developers.

Those efforts include in-app purchase, opening up a wide range of app pricing options in Ovi Store such as subscription models, micro-transactions, and try and buy. Developers will be able to build added value into their apps -- such as the sale of virtual goods, additional levels for games, or enhanced or localized in-app features.

In addition, Nokia spruced up its OVI Store user experience with a new look and feel that makes the store faster, and makes apps easier to find.

The vendor also removed the time-consuming and costly step of app signing. Now, one click is all it takes to complete Java and Symbian app signing. Finally, on the monetization front, Nokia said it will increase payments to developers after October 1.

Another area where Nokia has promised to improve the lot of developers is with in-app analytics via the vendor's acquisition of Motally. Mobile analytics technology will help developers and publishers to better track, report and monetize their content, claims the vendor.



   
Herman Mehling has written about IT for 25 years. He has written hundreds of articles for leading computer publications and websites.
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