On the challenge of understanding a global apps market

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An interesting closing paragraph from Kevin Tofel’s observations on developing for Symbian OS sums up some of the issues facing Nokia and Stephen Elop over the next few months and years. Tofel was covering the event for GigaOm, and has talked to a number of developers to ask “what’s it like to develop for Symbian?

What are the pluses? Billing support in 190 countries is a major plus point, and the increased sales numbers where carrier billing is available is a significant factor in increased sales.

Qt is also proving to be a success, with a much nicer (and faster) environment for Symbian development, especially in UI design and implementation.

The pain points are there as well, and carrier billing does pop up again, specifically where the carriers now slice a flat 10% off the split to cover their costs (previously developers got a 60/40 after costs were deducted, now it’s a flat percentage on the top line).

There are issues with the Ovi Store, but these are reducing. PixelPipe’s Brett Butterfield explained to Tofel that “…had you asked me a year ago, I would have had a long list of issues, but the Ovi Store has caught up.” And the lack of fragmentation in Symbian^3 is very much welcome, when compared to other platforms.

But it’s the part of the closing paragraph that’s the kicker for me:

It’s almost a challenge for me to believe the many positives I heard, simply because Nokia and Ovi aren’t strong brands in the U.S. Looking from the perspective of developers that market their wares in 190 countries, however, provides a totally different picture.

Let’s hope Tofel follows up on this challenge to look over the whole smartphone market as he absorbs his time at Nokia World, as that would be a fascinating article from a US-based site.

For now, the full article is at GigaOm.