Update: A Skype representative has told VentureBeat that Skype chose to keep its app out of the U.S. Ovi store because of a pre-existing deal with Verizon. You can download Skype for Nokia Symbian phones by opening skype.com/m from your phone browser.
This morning, Nokia and Skype put out a joint press release saying that Skype, the world’s most popular application for free and nearly-free Internet phone calls, was now available in the handset maker’s Ovi Store for phones running the Symbian operating system.
I have a Symbian-powered Nokia N97 the company lent me. So I hit the Ovi Store. No Skype. I searched Ovi’s online store from my desktop computer. “Sorry, this item is not available for your country,” it told me.
The VentureBeat staff figured out a way to use the free Fring client in the Ovi Store to make Skype calls to any phone number. But it requires a lot of button-pushing compared to a straight-up Skype app.
Four hours after I emailed Nokia in confusion, they got back to me. “The availability of apps in Ovi Store is determined by the publisher,” a company spokeswoman said. “We’re working with Skype to determine when they will make their app available to US Ovi Store users.” Nokia’s procedure is the opposite of Apple’s App Store, for which Apple, not the app maker, decides what shows up.
I haven’t heard back from Skype yet, but they also published the press release this morning.
Regardless of whose decision or whose fault it is, there’s a basic marketing lesson here: Don’t announce something until you’re triple-sure it’s available. It’s likely that many people will read about Skype for Nokia today, try to find it, give up, and then forget about it. Two-employee startups make this mistake all the time, but Nokia is the world’s largest handset maker, now trying to become the world’s largest entertainment network. “Not found” is not entertainment.