The developer world for our devices is changing. With the Nokia X software platform opening up rich opportunities for Android devs to expand the reach for their apps, what does this mean for the developer community and consumers?
We spoke to Amit Patel, Vice President of Developer Relations, Nokia to get his take on this brave, innovative world.
NC: How do you see the Nokia X software platform as an attractive proposition for developers?
AP: Developers are interested in reaching more consumers. With the Nokia X family of device, we are able to reach new consumers in the affordable smartphone segment. This part of the smartphone (sub €100) is growing four times faster than any other part of the smartphone market and we are in the best possible shape to capture our share.
The majority of the growth is coming from the emerging markets – Indonesia, Thailand, India, etc. – where we are already significantly present, especially with Nokia Asha. There’s already brand preference and brand loyalty for Nokia.
In essence, we’re going to be able to deliver a large amount of consumers to developers very easily.
NC: What if developers already have Android apps. How can they get them onto Nokia X?
AP: Those developers are our primary target audience. And, for them, we have made it really easy to bring their apps to Nokia Store. We provide an online tool called Nokia X Analyser where you can drag and drop your app to see whether you’re 100% compatible, or whether you need to make some changes. In most cases, the majority of apps just work. If that’s the case, just publish your app into the Nokia Store and you’re done.
NC: And if you don’t reach the magic 100% compatibility rating?
AP: There are three APIs that make them non-compatible; HERE Maps, notification and in-app payment. For any apps that are using these APIs, the developer would need to be some modifications. In many cases the changes are relatively small and can be completed in a matter of hours. Once done, just package your app and put it into the Nokia Store.
NC: Ok, so from a consumer’s point of view – how will they see an ‘Android’ app?
AP: Consumers can find apps in Nokia Store and from third-party stores. In Nokia store, modified and unmodified apps will be shown side-by-side, there is no difference. From a consumers’ point of view, the only thing that changes is the ever increasing amount of apps on offer.
NC: How do in-app purchases work on Nokia X?
AP: We’ve had in-app payments on Nokia Asha for a while now, and it’s the same mechanism that’s being used on Nokia X. All a developer needs to do is change the in-app purchase API ‘call’ from Google Play to Nokia.
However, one of the big worries that developers have is fragmentation – where they need to service all types of app stores. What we’ve done is to develop the platform, tools and APIs in such a way that we’re promising developers that they can maintain a single ; if you need to support the Nokia APIs, you can make the edits in the same code as your Google code.
The benefit of this for the developers is that he has much lower costs to maintain his app. This is just one of the things we’ve done to make things easy for developers.
NC: Is there anything else you’ve done to make the process easier for devs?
AP: Absolutely. One key area is in-app payments linked to operator billing. Taking India as an example, there are 1.2 billion people, around 350-million phones and 24-million credit cards. It’s clear that most people aren’t using credit cards for their in-app purchases. People are paying with operator billing. And we have ‘more than one’ operator billing deal in India.
Not many of our competitors have that.
So, publishing in the Nokia Store using our in-app payment method, means you’ve instantly got 350 million people at your disposal to buy your app, or an in-game sword!
NC: Are there any upcoming Nokia X apps that you’re excited about?
AP: We already have many of the top apps preloaded on the Nokia X devices including apps like Plants vs. Zombies, BBM, Skype, Facebook and many more. And we have others like OneDrive, Outlook.com, Angry Birds and hotels.com in the Nokia Store. We are continuously adding new apps and I am looking forward to apps like Facebook Messenger, Spotify and Temple Run 2, which should be amongst the many apps coming soon.
NC: Do you think there’s a good enough range of apps on Nokia X to give, what might be some peoples first foray into phone apps, a great experience?
AP: Right now, for the Nokia X family, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of apps available in the Nokia Store and in third-party stores. The Android ecosystem being what it is, there are lots of places for consumer to get all the apps they want.
NC: What do you think of people side-loading apps onto Nokia X?
AP: Side-loading happens predominantly in markets where consumers are reluctant to spend money on data. Often the mobile data costs in these markets make downloading large apps prohibitive. Obviously we encourage people to download over wi-fi, but we also realise that it’s convenient for people to side-load apps, often in bulk, to their devices.
Our focus is to give developers the chance to reach millions of consumers. Side-loading helps us to achieve that. With our in-app payment solution and our leading operator billing network, we are also uniquely position to maximize the revenue potential for developers regardless of how the apps are distributed.
None of our major competitors have the same operator billing coverage and device market share in growth markets.
Are you a developer? We’ve love to know what you think of the porting system. Let us know in the comments, below.