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July 28, 2008

Nokia Chat: part two – behind the scenes

INTERNATIONAL – Last week I got talking to Nokia Chat product manager, Kristian Luoma, to get a deeper understanding of what led to the creation of this new breed of bite-size app. Having ticked off where the inspiration and vision for the software emerged from, I asked Luoma about the app in its current beta guise, the challenges and where it’s headed.

One of the most interesting things to surface so far in terms of Nokia Chat‘s primary focus, is the importance of simple automated status updates – GPS being one of the smartest facilitators in the evolution of this simple feature. But I was keen to find out where the Nokia Chat team’s efforts are being focussed from now until the software finally graduates from Beta Labs, which Luoma has high hopes of happening before the end of the year. The key focus is clearly on creating a rock solid app that performs to its promises. And Luoma explains that the co-creation aspect of Beta Labs is proving hugely important in the process:

“Of course we realize there are a lot of things we have to get right. Our focus is on getting the service right, fixing any errors that we know and are being reported. At the same time we’re focussed on ensuring we get as many devices properly supported as we can. There has been a tremendous amount of feedback coming through the Beta Labs, which is invaluable. Especially as we didn’t have time for proper testing with all of the devices we’re supporting. For the ‘might work’ devices we’ve received a lot of feedback good and bad, and that has been really helpful for us.”

What struck me when speaking to Kristian Louma was how much impact the feedback and suggestions have in a real sense.

“The features that people are requesting are spot on, and sometimes its difficult to say anything as it’s already on your roadmap, not to name any specific feature. At the same time, some of the feature suggestions we haven’t even thought of, and of course those are interesting to hear about, and we propagate discussion within our team. We can’t promise all of those features will be created, but we start with the ones that match our vision and go from there.”

When asked what’s the biggest challenge of the moment, Luoma openly replies:

“Time. We have all sorts of cool visions, but doing them before somebody else goes public is always a challenge.”

And as one of the first apps to use Nokia’s new universal login concept, Nokia Account, I asked Luoma what he thinks about the whole thing:

“It’s a great thing. It’s been an adventure to get it working, but hopefully we will be a bulldozer for some of the services that are coming from Nokia”

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

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