On October 27, 2010, Nokia and Daily Star, one of the most popular English dailies of Bangladesh, jointly launched the Daily Star news widget in the Nokia Ovi store. It is the first local ews widget launched in South East Asia Pacific region. The news widget is now available for free to all the Nokia Ovi store users of Bangladesh and abroad as well.
To celebrate the occasion, Nokia and Daily Star arranged a press conference at Westin Hotel in Gulshan. From South Asia Blog, I (S. M. Mehdi Hassan) had the opportunity to talk with Sajid Rizwan Matin, Acting Head of Marketing, Nokia Bangladesh. Mr. Matin, talked about various aspects of the Nokia App store and the news widget. Below is an excerpt of the interview:
SAB: You said that that Daily Star News widget is the first news widget in the South Asia Pacific region.
Sajid Rizwan Matin: Yes, we already have news widgets for CNN, BBC, Reuters in the Nokia Ovi store but Daily Star is the first local news widget in the South Asia Pacific region.
SAB:Why did Nokia launch an English newspaper widget? The number of English language speakers is very small in our country.
Sajid Rizwan Matin: First of all, the Daily Star and us, we have talked about it for a long time and one of the potential of this widget is for the people who use smartphones (Symbian 3 and S60 series phones) and they are accustomed to using English language. In addition, there is also the international market where English language is the most preferred medium of communication.
SAB:Would you expand this news service to other mobile handsets?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: Yes, we are going to expand this service to low-end handsets as well. By the end of this year, the service will be introduced among the users of Series 40 devices. I believe that language barrier would not be a big problem for the users of Series 40 devices. We are also looking into some other Bangla language based applications but there is a major technical obstacle. We have to create an Internet feed based on Bangla language. First, we need to have a proper solution and then we can have Bangla language news services.
SAB:Have you included text-to-speech feature in the Daily Star news?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: No, we have not offered such feature with this application because it is too much data. Already there is text and adding voice would make the application data heavy and more complicated. For the Daily Star widget, our main focus was on creating a user-friendly application. Ovi store users can easily locate, download and customize the app as per their needs. For example, users can pinch and zoom the text to read clearly. Also there is an application in our Ovi Store which enables users to magnify the text so that they can read clearly.
SAB:Do you have any future plan to include such features?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: Well, we have many future plans in terms of application development but at this moment we are not focusing on this matter but this is a very good input and we will definitely look into it.
SAB: About the Nokia Ovi store, do users have to pay any kind of registration fee?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: No, Ovi Store registration is free of charge. The user is required to subscribe to https://store.ovi.com and create an account or have an Ovi Email ID and they can access Nokia Ovi store through any Ovi store supporting handsets. Currently, we are offering free apps such as the Daily Star widget that we launched today. There are also some gaming apps and some of them are “for payment” apps which require credit cards and at present Bangladeshi users can not download these apps due to restrictions imposed by the Bangladesh government.
SAB:You also talked about application developers for Nokia Ovi app stores. Have Nokia developed any tools or policies to enable third party app developers of Bangladesh to upload applications in Nokia Ovi app store and sell them?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: This is why we have Forum Nokia. Forum Nokia is a community of developers and one of the major focuses of this community is to enable app developers to develop applications for Nokia Ovi app store. They publish tutorials and codes which anyone can download and use. Any developer whether individual or company, who is interested to develop applications for Nokia, can visit Forum Nokia and get all necessary information on developing applications for Nokia Ovi app store.
Already there are business models where developers get paid for their products but these are not introduced in Bangladesh. For example big publishers such as EA games have a business model with us and if you visit the Ovi store for Bangladesh you will see paid apps but Bangladeshi users can not buy these apps at present due restrictions posed by Bangladesh government.
SAB:Have you developed any policies or tools for developers who are interested to create apps for Bangladeshi consumers?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: Yes, we are currently working on this matter. It is not established yet because Nokia Ovi app store is very young, only one year old, and we have just stepped into the Bangladeshi market and we are exploring various possibilities of monetizing the revenue stream. For example, there can be a one-time upfront fee for the developers, there are applications where users can be charged based on download or use. We are now trying to establish such models within the legal structure of Bangladesh and this has to be a collaborative effort. Different government agencies and network carriers will have to work together with us.
SAB:You mentioned JadeWits Limited, the local company that developed the Daily Star widget, currently how many local third party developers are working with Nokia?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: JadeWits Limited is the first company we are working with in Bangladesh. We just finished another campaign. It is actually about the developers coming into our network. JadeWits actually worked with us in last year’s campaign and they were registered during last year’s campaign. The application they developed won some awards and now we have started to use it. Currently, we have 200 registrations with us including independent developers and companies and we are in a process of getting some demo applications from them. I am not sure about the number right now but there are twenty applications submitted to us. We will review each application and see which best meets our consumers’ needs. We also have some applications in mind that we would like to give to these 200 developers so that they can work on it.
SAB:You also said that your company is now working on some Bangla language applications. Can you tell us a bit about them?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: I can not give you all the details but we are actually trying to develop a phonetic keyboard where people can provide input in Bangla using the English language keyboard.
SAB:You talked about revenues. Can you tell us a bit about the revenue sharing system?
Sajid Rizwan Matin: As I have mentioned, it is still in the conceptual phase. We need to work out who should be the partners in this endeavor like how much partnership should the operator have, do we need to have a content partner, do we need to have a payment partner. Once we make sure who are the shareholders in this eco-system we will definitely have the business model which will obviously have win-win situation. At this stage, we can not say how much percentage would go where.
SAB: Thank you very much for your time.
Sajid Rizwan Matin: Thank you.