Ovi Lays an Egg

In the local dialect here in Padova, Italy, "ovi" means "eggs".  For those who aren't native English speakers, "to lay an egg" means to fail at something or do it poorly.  The connection is very appropriate.


To see what it was about, and if it was worth pursuing, I decided to submit a couple of simple applications to Nokia's OVI store.  Nothing fancy, or that I'd spent much time developing, and they were actually little things I'd done for myself before the ovi.com store came out, but I had hoped to see about making a bit of money out of the time invested nonetheless.


So I went ahead and started adding them, with a quick glance the publisher guidelines.  Too quick, as it turns out.  A month after submitting my application, their "QA" process lets me know my application is not going to be accepted because it's not signed.  Uh… yeah?  Couldn't you have simply run a script on the file I uploaded to tell me the same damn thing?  It's not exactly as if you have to have a human look at the file with a hex editor to determine whether it's signed or not.  My phone can tell, of course – presumably Nokia ought to be able to figure it out programmatically and let me know?  Sure, I should have read their big, long document prior to starting, but come on, it would have saved everyone time if their software had simply informed me that my application, being unsigned, was not ok.

Now, when it comes to signing, Java ME is pretty much the worst in the business, although Apple is giving them a run for their money.  At least Apple does it to make the applications good for their users (for their definition of good).

  • Java ME:  Ovi suggests using http://javaverified.com/ – where it costs $200 to sign up, and then something like at least 75 euros to run an application through *their* whole process.  For each version.   The hell with that!
  • Android: you have to pay $25 to get access to the marketplace, but can self-sign applications.  For free.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Nokia & Larry.
  • BlackBerry: I was sure this one was going to be expensive and painful given that BB is mostly aimed at big companies that could certainly spare the money.   It's not: $20 gets you a certificate that you can sign everything you want with, and it's pretty quick and painless to get it.  This is how Nokia ought to be doing things in terms of signing applications.
  • Apple: $100 gets you the dev kit and then you can submit your apps to the somewhat bureaucratic and slow apple approval process.  Plus you have to own a mac to develop on, if you don't already have one.  But still, only $100 a year, and you can do as many apps as you want.

So there you have it, Java ME involves more fees than the other ones, and is probably as slow and bureaucratic to boot. I'm not going to find out, though, this pretty much concludes my experiment with ovi.com – there's no way I'm going to spend all that money on a little fun application that I'd only sell for a few euros.  Being a fan of open source and openness in general, my next phone will certainly be Android based.

I think someone at Nokia probably realizes things are broken: they appear to be working on a way to make it not cost anything to sign Symbian apps.  But I don't have a Symbian app, so that's pretty useless for me.

Oh, and while I'm bitching about their whole process, their publisher interface was down all of last weekend in order to "add a new set of metadata which will improve the Ovi Store user experience".  It took a whole weekend of downtime to add that?

Furthermore, I signed up for Ovi as soon as it came out – I was going to push Hecl to it (but didn't bother at the time) but now it appears they want 50 euros from you just to sign up.  Here's a hint: save your money.

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