Etisalat, a telecom service provider in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Nokia announced their collaboration today (April 27) to provide access to mobile Internet based services in the Middle East. The services include maps, navigation, and games on Nokia devices, based on the Ovi services platform provided by Nokia. 

In the first phase, according to Nokia, Etisalat’s UAE mobile customers will be able to enjoy Ovi Maps and N-Gage Games on their Nokia devices, through an easy payment mechanism. Subscribers to Ovi Maps and purchasers of N-Gage games can choose to combine their payments for these mobile internet based services with their Etisalat account. 

The United Arab Emirates will be the first country in the Middle East and Africa to roll out this service during Q2, 2009, while the cooperation will be extended to other Etisalat operations in the Middle East and Africa, Nokia says.

Of late, Nokia has been facing some severe business pressure in the dwindling mobile market. This is also reflected in its financial results, as its net sales plummeted 27% year-on-year at EUR 9.3 billion for the first quarter of 2009.

Now, to improve its sales performance, it’s taking a number of steps including its expansion in the emerging markets. Its collaboration with Etisalat is among those steps. 

And mobile Internet is believed to be a potential market. For example, in the U.S., the number of people using their mobile devices to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people, 22.4 million (35%) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year, reports comScore.  

Ovi allows access to Nokia services like maps, navigation, games, messaging and music, as well as the ability to manage, sync, and share personal files or information. It’s the consumer brand for Nokia internet services.

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About Rakesh Raman

Have extensive editorial, content management, and integrated communications experience and have worked as a senior tech journalist, analyst, and columnist with different newspapers, magazines, and Web/online properties in India.

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