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Nokia: We might build our own social network. Rubbish!

You have to wonder what planet Nokia live on sometimes.

There’s some really, really talented people working there.

Trouble is — and I’m definitely not alone in thinking this — the majority of the good people, the REAL smarties, are working at the just-below-director level.

They’re working just below the layer of telecoms management who could probably build you a mobile handset from the contents of your waste paper basket.

But ask them to take feedback — proper decent feedback — from the Nokia geniuses working beneath them…

And no.

No no. Absolutely no.

Don’t you DARE criticise our UI. It’s perfect. It’s one of the best on the planet.

And your mother, Ewan, she’s just STUPID if she can’t learn it. Never mind the fact that she could use the iPhone in 2 seconds.

Anyway.

To the subject.

My good occasional friend Carlo Longino writes at MobHappy. I should qualify ‘good friend’. We meet at CTIA. Those types of events. Carlo and Rafe from All About Symbian will typically sit in the corner at an event and make reasoned judgements about the new handsets and services they’re witnessing first hand. Meanwhile I sit a seat to the left of them and make direct and opinionated ‘THAT’S RUUUUUBBBBISH’ comments and proceed to badger them into agreeing with me.

I think that’s a pretty good summation of our relationship. He’s a nice chap. Just got married recently. His wife’s on twitter too.

Carlo has written a piece about ‘Facebook in Talks With Nokia‘. He refers us to the statement he made back in September about Nokia:

“So, to sum up, if you’re an operator or a handset vendor, don’t try to sell your users on some new social-networking site. Make it easier and better for them to access Facebook, or MySpace, or whatever social site they’re already invested in. Don’t try to sell them on some new IM service that’s closed off to most of their friends; make Skype or AIM or MSN work better on their handset.”

You’re in danger of sounding like a Mobile Industry Review correspondent there, Carlo.

He posts this in reaction to this Wall Street Journal quote:

Nokia is deciding whether it wants to team up with an established Web player like Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., or to build a social network from the ground up, said people familiar with the talks.

… which was written by either a highly uninformed journalist or a huge dollop of some kind of irony.

Show me a Nokia service that is market leading.

Show me a Nokia service that’s second. Or third. Or fourth in the market. You know, one that works and is used by people other than a community of 300 die-hard Nokia fanatics.

Whilst there is something to be said for catering for the lowest common denominator, I am pretty confident that Nokia’s top managerial layer simply couldn’t handle this.

Build a social network?

From the ground up?

Next.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

10 replies on “Nokia: We might build our own social network. Rubbish!”

100% agreed. What's needed, I reckon, is for Google Maps/Latitude, already available for every platform, to add Facebook status integration. That would get us 80% of the way towards the perfect useable mobile social network….
PS. Yes, I know the iPhone version's not out yet, but it's coming in the next firmware.

I dunno…We in the 'Western world' think that's silly. FB has, what, 150M users? Who could POSSIBLY supplant them? They are it. End of. Someone once said that of Alta Vista….

Nokia have probably sold more handsets than that in one country – India.

What's to stop them integrating a SN backend into a low-cost handset? Nothing. They have the servers, they have the nous.

Most people in India don't have PC's, so don't have FB yet. No-one offers SN on mobiles effectively yet. If it came in the box, and all your low-end Nokia-wielding contacts had it too, it would spread like wildfire. It wouldn't NEED a brand, it has one – Nokia. India's most-loved mobile. It would became assumed that if you have a Nokia, you can IM / status broadcast / share images.

I think Nokia could do a SN and whop FB's ass, based on just a few markets.

Sound off…

/m

Mike, I agree with your perspective.

Unfortunately it's a massive IF.

It makes a heck of a lot of sense. Indeed if they bought something like Trutap and stuck it on each of their $10 handsets, they'd be well on their way. My issue is Nokia's ability to deliver 'service'. If they do it properly I'll be their biggest supporter. Bring it on Nokia! Let's see some innovation!

i agree, Nokia could pull it off in India or elsewhere but as Ewan says, Nokia have shown no ability to deliver a compelling service. Compelling hardware yes but other than viNes/sports tracker (which unfortunately is only compelling to early adopters), no compelling services.

Nokia can't be a leader in social networking as the others like Facebook have to much of a head start. Nokia knows this. Therefore, this must be a negotiations ploy to get a better deal from Facebook. Nokia wants to compete with the likes of INQ1. This will help sell handsets. It is a no-brainer for Nokia

er….never write off anyone just because the opposition is big. Like I said, Google came from a shed when everyone on the planet with a PC was on Alta Vista. And FaceBook came from a dormitory when MySpace was apparently getting more pageviews than Google. An *awful* lot can change in just a few years.

What Nokia have is arguably the strongest brand in the world. That is present in every single country, that has huge cachet in emerging nations, and huge trust from consumers.

The Nokia services Ewan refers to have missed the mark, for various reasons. They are edjits, but that's not to say that one day some exec might pitch up to a Tuttle meeting, listen to the sage heads gathered therein, and nip back to Espoo with the blueprint for a social network app. One that could be downloaded onto, shared virally via bluetooth among, or built into the 2 Billion-odd* Nokia devices currently out there.

Think about it – a platform of 2 BILLION. An uptake of just a few percent would make them among the largest SN's, instantly. And if a few of your friends / villagers / fellow farmers were on it…

…Let's drop the trivial Developed-world view of SN's as vanity vehicles for attention-defecit media whores. Think about the applications for health, commerce, democracy, social justice, etc etc.

Social Networks have yet to really reach the people they will benefit most.

* wild stab in the dark. But I bet it's not far off.

i agree, Nokia could pull it off in India or elsewhere but as Ewan says, Nokia have shown no ability to deliver a compelling service. Compelling hardware yes but other than viNes/sports tracker (which unfortunately is only compelling to early adopters), no compelling services.

I wrote a mobile social network once. Took me 3 months, (and another 3 for the web front end), and was designed for use on low-end handsets (WAP 1.0 and up). Could have even been embedded into a handset, the back end and messaging service was that simple (even though it supported both images and video). So Mike42's comment may in fact be prescient. If you build and run a social network as a service and embed it into a handset in an emerging market you could quite easily surpass FB in terms of users very quickly.

And mobile social networks are, by the choice of technology in handsets, and the need to ensure minimal data traffic across low-speed carriers, or carriers who still charge bucketloads for data traffic, much easier to deal with than web-based ones.

Nokia can't be a leader in social networking as the others like Facebook have to much of a head start. Nokia knows this. Therefore, this must be a negotiations ploy to get a better deal from Facebook. Nokia wants to compete with the likes of INQ1. This will help sell handsets. It is a no-brainer for Nokia

er….never write off anyone just because the opposition is big. Like I said, Google came from a shed when everyone on the planet with a PC was on Alta Vista. And FaceBook came from a dormitory when MySpace was apparently getting more pageviews than Google. An *awful* lot can change in just a few years.

What Nokia have is arguably the strongest brand in the world. That is present in every single country, that has huge cachet in emerging nations, and huge trust from consumers.

The Nokia services Ewan refers to have missed the mark, for various reasons. They are edjits, but that's not to say that one day some exec might pitch up to a Tuttle meeting, listen to the sage heads gathered therein, and nip back to Espoo with the blueprint for a social network app. One that could be downloaded onto, shared virally via bluetooth among, or built into the 2 Billion-odd* Nokia devices currently out there.

Think about it – a platform of 2 BILLION. An uptake of just a few percent would make them among the largest SN's, instantly. And if a few of your friends / villagers / fellow farmers were on it…

…Let's drop the trivial Developed-world view of SN's as vanity vehicles for attention-defecit media whores. Think about the applications for health, commerce, democracy, social justice, etc etc.

Social Networks have yet to really reach the people they will benefit most.

* wild stab in the dark. But I bet it's not far off.

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