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MIR Show goes to Rome and finds locals using N73s

We’re still getting to grips with this international-bloggers-of-mystery concept here at the Mobile Industry Review Show.

Instead of bringing you updates, perspective and on-the-road tests from somewhere in London, we decided to take the MIR Show on the road. The first stop, of course, was Rome.

We flew out on the 730am British Airways flight to Rome and arrived on schedule at Leonardo da Vinci airport. We hit the hotel, dumped most of the non-essential kit and headed off to the Colosseum to begin the filming.

We used both Google Maps and Nokia Maps to get about the place. Central Rome is mostly walkable. The massive FAIL that is Nokia Maps (I thought it would be at least ‘ok’) came as a complete surprise.

Also, the G1 handset roamed perfectly… except for Google Maps — which spent the day displaying an error to an increasingly frustrated Ben Smith. (Ben was also trying to demonstrate Nokia Maps).

Dan Lane decided to stick with his iPhone 3G. Lucky he did. We were able to navigate around Rome thanks to Google Maps and the iPhone.

I really thought the Italians would be ultra hip — both in their fashion sense and their handset selection. Instead most of the locals around Rome were wearing relaxed garb. And when they weren’t kissing each other passionately (it is, yes, a very romantic place), they were talking on their Motorola RAZRs.

This, I think, is one of the biggest misconceptions I had about Italians and their mobile handsets: I thought they’d be up to date. I thought they’d be big into data. I thought there would be handsets all over the place. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

The best handsets we saw in use? Seriously: Motorola RAZRs. Or the odd three year old Sony Ericcson.

Once or twice I saw an iPhone — and then realised it belonged to someone from the UK.

This, despite the fact that Vodafone Italy retails both the Blackberry Storm AND the iPhone 3G.

Perhaps Saturday and Sunday were the wrong days to go and do some normob watching in the capital city? Maybe most people were out in the provinces, leaving the city centre to the proles on their RAZRs?

I wonder if Italians really DO care more about talking? Rather than texting and twittering? From what we observed over the weekend I’d say that looks to be the case. The city locals were very clearly carrying about MOBILE TELEPHONES — RAZRs and ultra slim 2-3 year old Sony Ericssons and using them to talk on. The only folk using data services on their handsets appeared to be us.

Anyway we filmed a lot of content and all things being equal, we’ll be publishing two MIR Shows from Italy soon.

Fancy a few pics meantime?

Here’s Dan on the phone to his other half, reveling in the fact that his 3-Like-Home service didn’t cost him anything extra to phone home from Rome:

Dan at Roman Colosseum

Here’s Ben Smith getting more and more agitated by his N82 with Nokia Maps. Dan had already plotted the location to the Spanish Steps within 10 seconds whilst we waited for the Nokia to get on the same page:

Ben Smith and Dan Lane

We did some filming at most of the major landmarks. This one is Il Vittoriano:

Il Vittoriano_02

Next stop? I’m thinking Prague. Or Marrakech.

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.

29 replies on “MIR Show goes to Rome and finds locals using N73s”

You should definately do Marrakech, it's an amazing city where Berber, Asian and European's mix with apparent ease. Also, while taking a break there last year, I spotted a guy who had plainly just arrived in the city from the High Atlas Mountains (judging by the amount of sand and dust on his clothes and face) calling people on a Blackberry 8700!

I remember being surprised at the sophistication of the locals when it came to their mobile phones, I think it would be a great place for you guys to explore next. Oh, and i can tell you some of the awesome rooftop bars you should check out 😉

you didn’t spot that most Italians carry two or three mobiles – I haven’t figured out why – perhaps to take two calls at once as far as I can tell

So what was Ben's problem? I'm guessing it was nothing to do with Nokia Maps and a lot to do with not having a SIM with roaming data? Without data, he'd have had to preload the maps and also have to wait ages because Assisted GPS wouldn't work.

As long as there's data, Nokia Maps is superb….

Oh no, Ben had perfect roaming data courtesy of 3.

It's a complete unmitigated 100% Nokia-Maps-is-Bollocks FAIL, Steve. And we've got it on camera and it's priceless, absolutely priceless. We put Nokia Maps next to Google Maps. Literally my N95 8GB on Google Maps, his N82 on Nokia Maps. Both with 3G data connections. And we searched for 'Spanish Steps'.

Guess which one worked in about 5 seconds and which one fell flat on it's fat arse? 😉

Interesting. What do you mean by 'fell flat'? For what it's worth, Nokia Maps is faster than Google Maps at finding my location here in the UK. But yes, Google Maps is better at finding 'popular' things, I suspect its databases are wider and fuzzier 😎

Yes – it was searching (very slow) and POI detail and accuracy that was poor. I was on 3 (like home) 3.5G connection.

Even when you realised that everything had to be done in Italian it couldn't find major landmarks or restaurants.

It didn't do what it's supposed to do. I daresay it's brilliant for helping you around London. But as Ben points out, it was wholly pathetic for helping us navigate a city new to us. Spanish Steps? No. Colosseum? No. Any restaurant we were suggested or could find listed? No. Rubbish. Not fit for purpose.

Well, let me qualify that. If you want to get from Tottenham Court Road to Charlotte Street with turn by turn directions and you've got a few minutes to spend sodding about with Nokia Maps, it'll work brilliantly.

Anything else? Google Maps is about a trillion miles in front.

Yes, sounds about right. But bear in mind that Nokia Maps is a street-based real-time navigation package with POIs bolted on. Google Maps is a POI-based mapping package with no real-time navigation component at all.

Different apps for different purposes, though there is some overlap. Like you, I always travel with both on hand 😎

Which would be fine if it located streets well (or quickly). The online searching is painfully slow.

In the UK postcodes make the process much easier, but for overseas use where you don't know (or there aren't any) such identifiers makes it a pain.

Yep, postcodes make things 10x faster for searching. They do have postcodes in Italy, of course, but a tourist wouldn't know them. Again making Nokia Maps a bad tool for the job. You'd use NM where someone had given you a written address to navigate to (usually by car). You'd use GM if you were a pedestrian tourist for the day(!) stuck in a strange city where you didn't know any postcodes or even how to spell half the things you were looking for…..

😎

Fair comment, but I was stood within 500 yards of the Colosseum typing
'Colosseo' (copied directly off the sign in front of me) and it still took
an age to search and offered other things first.

2009/2/3 Disqus <>

Yes, but next time you're on the A34 heading towards some God forsaken back street in Swindon, amidst heavy traffic, Nokia Maps will talk you through getting there in real time, whatever wrong turnings you have to take. Google Maps will… distract you from the road and kill you 😎

As I say, I'm a fan of both, though. Your use case was definitely a sweet spot for GM. And yes, NM's POI search engine could be a lot better, but v3,0 is just around the corner, so who knows?

One of the reasons you saw so many older handsets is to do with the market pricing. Something like 90% of Italian mobile users are on PAYT. If you'd popped into any shops, you'd see that subsidises aren't as generous.

So, it becomes very expensive to get a new & cool phone when you're paying the true cost of it!

Agree.

TomTom or any other similar thing, sub-£100, latest maps pre-installed, decent size screen, power leads and bracket included = fit for purpose.

Google Maps for visiting some place you've never been, finding out places to go, what's near = fit for purpose.

Needing an aftermarket bracket to clamp your mobile to your windscreen, cable to power the thing, an OS that will interrupt with SMS/Calls etc just when you need to concentrate on the directions, compromised GPS antenna placement, tiny screen, need to download latest maps = not fit for purpose.

Wonder why the masses have ignored Nokia Maps?

So many things to digest… There's my N73 rotting away in a draw when in Italy it'd be the creme-de-la-creme and how absolutely useless Nokia Maps is at… well anything! Why couldn't Nokia have bought up tomtom instead? I want a brand spanking new version of tomtom City Maps and I want it now!

As for next MIR city… hmm Kabul perhaps? There's quite a few interesting mobile stories there to uncover!

Well, the use of RAZRs is a scandal, but N73s? They are considered rather good here actually, though certainly not the cream of the crop (N95 and Omnia are regarded as such). I own an N73 since March '08 and I'm rather satisfied. It surely would benefit from more RAM or on demand paging, but it suits my needs and I was able to afford it when I needed a new phone. You guys will probably be disappointed if you come here, mobile internet seems to be the domain of businessmen. The prices aren't great and normobs aren't too conscious about it.

Well, the use of RAZRs is a scandal, but N73s? They are considered rather good here actually, though certainly not the cream of the crop (N95 and Omnia are regarded as such). I own an N73 since March '08 and I'm rather satisfied. It surely would benefit from more RAM or on demand paging, but it suits my needs and I was able to afford it when I needed a new phone. You guys will probably be disappointed if you come here, mobile internet seems to be the domain of businessmen. The prices aren't great and normobs aren't too conscious about it.

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