Nokia opened their app store "Ovi Store" today. So far, every single piece of news I have seen about the Ovi Store has mentioned Apple - often even in the caption. There is absolutely no question who the leader is and who the challenger is.
The store is very slow now but that is to be expected with a launch like this.
So how does Ovi Store compare to Apple's App Store? Well, Ovi Store is not really an App Store - there are only a small number of applications - but rather a content store with background images, videos and ring tones. My spontanious reaction is "not bad". Not as good as Apple's, but still ok. There are a few good Symbian applications that have lingered in obscurity because there has been no application store for Symbian and hopefully these applications will now see greater adoption. I'm thinking of applications such as JoikuSpot (turns your Nokia phone into a WiFi hotspot, letting you share your 3G connection wite, e.g. your ipod touch, laptop and so on) and qik (live video webcast straight from your Nokia camera phone).
Regarding JoikuSpot, in my opinion one of the most usefull applications for my Nokia: there is a free version (which I am using) and a paid one (costing 15 euros) that have some additional features. Interestingly enough, I could only find the paid one and not the free one in the Ovi Store. The free "light" version is still available at joikuspot.com.
On one hand you could claim that the inclusion of things like background images and ring tones is a good thing and makes the Ovi Store more versatile than Apple's - or you could say it is an attempt to hide the fact that there are so few applications for Symbian. I found 34 free applications for my S60v3 phone and 4 free games. The number of paid applications was 164 and 85 games.
Downloads seems to be taken care of by requesting an SMS with a URL to the download and then you download the application using your browser in your phone. An Ovi Store application for Symbian phones is said to exist for a limited number of Nokia phones. So far, the overall experience is quite less polished than Apple's and no where near the level of integration Apple has achieved. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Still, the Ovi Store is definitively a step in the right direction for Nokia.
Now, let's see how mainstream journalists react - it could go either way: it could be praised as a great step forward for Nokia or it could be dismissed as a failure falling short of what Apple has achieved. It really all depends on if you view Ovi Store on it's own or compare it to Apple.