Nokia to Rebrand Ovi, Readies Microsoft Link Up

Nokia to Rebrand Ovi, Readies Microsoft Link Up

Nokia today announced it will rebrand its Ovi mobile services, as the company readies for a partnership with Microsoft to boost worldwide sales.

The formerly Ovi Maps, Mail and app store will instead be titled “Nokia Maps” and similar from now on, because the company believes this new name is less cumbersome and more globally recognizable. The transition should be complete by 2012, around the time when Microsoft is set to install its Windows OS on all newly manufactured Nokia handsets.

“By centralizing our services identity under one brand, not two, we will reinforce the powerful master brand of Nokia and unify our brand architecture,” said Jerri DeVard, Nokia’s chief marketing officer.

The company also rushed to reassure customers that it is not closing, only renaming, its mobile services. In addition to this news, Nokia spokesperson James Etheridge also dispelled rumors that Microsoft will buy Nokia’s mobile division, and said it is still focused on its partnership with the company.

This name change is the latest in Nokia’s major overhauls, as it ditched its Symbian and MeeGo platforms earlier this year in favor of planting Microsoft’s Windows OS on its handsets.

Nokia also plans to cut $1.4 billion in expenses by 2013, in an attempt to protect its perch in the market from Apple, which threatens to become the world’s biggest handset maker by revenue.

Both Nokia and Microsoft will gain from a partnership, since Nokia badly needs a new OS and the Redmond, Wash.-based company could use the boost of putting its platform on the world’s most widely used phones.

Neither company recognized the importance of app-centric, touch screen phones in time to rival Apple and Google, but a joint effort could reverse their slipping fortunes in the mobile market.

Though its partnership with Microsoft will certainly help lift it out of a slump, Nokia’s consolidation of its branding will help give its services and products more recognition, especially as those services become more and more critical as it essentially reinvents its smartphones.

Interestingly, Ovi is the Finnish word for “door.” The irony is not lost on Nokia as they prepare to close down the brand name — closing one door and opening another.

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