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Nokia starts roll-out of Apple App Store rival

HELSINKI (May 25) - Nokia on Monday began rolling out its much-anticipated online software and content store, Ovi Store, as it aims to follow the success of Apple's App Store.

Nokia said it had started moving Ovi Store to production servers, preparing for the global commercial launch, and the store was opened to users of a few of its phone models in Australia and Singapore on Monday.

Nokia has promised to open the store globally this week.To cope with slowing phone demand Nokia is building a new business from mobile Internet services -- like games or maps -- but is scaling back separate investment plans due to the slowdown, and focusing on merging the delivery of services.

Nokia, which made its first ever quarterly pretax loss in January-March, is cutting annual costs at its key handset unit alone by more than 700 million euros ($979.7 million) to counter plunging phone demand.

The Apple App Store has proved extremely popular, with one billion applications downloaded in less than a year, and operators and technology firms including Vodafone Nokia, and Microsoft now want a piece of the pie.

However, analysts say firms will likely struggle to match the success of Apple's store when creating their own stores, hampered by technical issues, a lack of applications and increased competition.

"Ovi Store is in some ways the last castle for Nokia - both N-Gage and 'Comes with Music' are industry laughing stocks," said Global Crown analyst Tero Kuittinen.

Games and music have been spearheads of Nokia's services push, but its mobile gaming offering has had little success, and its much-hyped music offering, which bundles free music downloads with a sold phone, has also found few clients.

Nokia will also sell games and music through the Ovi Store.

Source : Reuters.com

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