The once strong mobile phone provider Nokia has been tethering on oblivion for more than a year now and as it is getting ready to reveal a new line of devices for its fledgeling smartphone arm, it has announced a new deal with Zynga to add Draw Something and Zynga Poker to the Nokia Asha Touch feature phones along with the rest of the Nokia Series 40 devices.
The games will start appearing in the fall (their Q3) and will reach 100 million users, Nokia says. Because of Nokia's strength overseas, this could be a boost to Zynga as it seeks for more international recognition and users.
Both games are freemium models and are set up so that Nokia users can buy additional credits through the phone.
Since Zynga bought Draw Something maker OMGPOG for $180 million in April 2012 the user numbers have been steadily falling, but this could be because they bought the game so close to its debut that the numbers were falsely high -- mostly people interested in downloading a new app but not really sticking around to place and get interested in the model.
One this news, Nokia shares saw some upward momentum Friday morning, trading at $2.73, up 3.60% for the day. Meanwhile Zynga shares are holding steady at a similar price range of $2.99, in mid-morning trading.
While I think it is important to have more bells and whistles on your phone in the this day and age, I am not sure (and it wasn't clarified in the statement) how Nokia and Zynga will translate these games on their non-smartphone devices. It is also unclear if the Zynga Poker will soon translate to real-money gambling since Nokia is big overseas, where gambling laws are far looser than here in the US.
Zynga has been very clear about its interest in doing more real-money gambling in its games and both Nokia and Zynga could use the extra revenue at this point.
“It’s great to expand our offering of Zynga games to deliver more blockbuster titles across our portfolio of mobile devices, giving consumers great choice and tremendous value,” Bryan Biniak, VP & GM, Global Partnering & Application Development, Nokia, said in a statement. “With premium design, powerful hardware and outstanding gaming capabilities, we’re redefining what consumers expect from today’s feature phone experience.”
For Q2, Nokia reported feature phone sales, led by the Asha range, of $2.8 billion, down by only 1% from the year prior but feature phone volumes only grew by a slight 2% to 71.5 billion units. In order to pick-up that growth, Nokia needs to keep looking outside the box and fight to dominate internationally where price point and durability could keep giving them an edge over the iPhone and the higher end Android products.
Nokia has been struggling to keep developers populating its Nokia Store (where five billion apps have already been downloaded to date), but many just gravitate and focus on the two big boys -- the App Store and the Android Store. The company even says that 500 Nokia developers have seen downloads of over 1 million for their apps -- but a few successes haven't been enough for the store to keep full.
Bring ing Zynga onboard and pre-set in the phones is a start, but Nokia will likely need some more big names to really make people stop and take notice.