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August 5, 2008

Back and catching up and what do I see? Eagerness, accents, and an interesting aspect of map data

ESPOO, Finland – I am back from holiday and spent most of yesterday trying to find out what happened while I was away. Indeed, a lot has happened that caught my eye, and I’ll be talking about things from July for a few days.

The ones I want to talk about today revolve around co-creation, vowel formation, and street enumeration.

Pile it here, pilot there.

Starting off, it was great to see the response to our Nokia Pilots announcement. I think folks are not only eager to get their hands on the latest devices, but to share their passion by helping us create the next generation of devices. We’ve been talking to the guys who are making this happen and we hope to interview them.

One thing that worries me is that I do believe this is focused mostly on devices. While fixes to software can be made relatively easily, not so with hardware. I’ve tested handsets before and found that by the time the gadget is working it’s way down the process. Will the feedback Nokia gets from the Pilots be effectively returned and _incorporated_ into existing or future devices? It is the fervent goal of the Pilot program. But, is the rest of the product creation machinery ready? Let’s hope so.

Oy, mate!

This week, Spinvox,, and Nokia are sponsoring a funny contest centered around folks’ different accents. As an American, I am simply confounded by the range of accents in the UK (and have had many embarrassing moments, too). Our very own Mike muses how having an accent or not liking one’s accent could affect how we use our mobile phone.

For me, working surrounded by folks who speak English as a second language, I’ve learned to be very forgiving of how folks mangle English. Yet, I have noticed that speakers of other languages can be quite strict on how to pronounce their own language (after mangling mine!).

The latest flap goes to the word ‘Ovi’ (Finnish for ‘door’), the name of Nokia’s service brand. Most Finns do not know it’s ‘Ovi’ until they see it spelled, so foreigners naturally pronounce it in a non-Finnish way.

As a lark, I asked if Mike could go around asking folks (à la Vox Pop) how to pronounce Ovi. Heh. Go check out the video of his friends and family wrapping their tongue around Ovi (Mike and James are there, too).

What I’d really like to hear is how others pronounce it. I dare you to post a video (or do the Vox Pop yourself – I might just send you a gift in appreciation for the best clip).

Dejected in Jaipur

We always get a great response from India. And we hope to do more articles on Nokia-related stuff from there. In one of our recent articles announcing the release of the Nokia 6210 Navigator in India, practically everyone pointed out the poor quality of the digital maps in India.

I dug deeper and we’re going to see if we can get someone from our Maps group to elaborate. But what I found out from Nokia Conversations pal Justin Oppelaar, the poor quality of digital street maps is not new.

Justin tells me that India has been a challenge, especially street names. That makes turn-by-turn navigation outside the big cities very difficult using the traditional methods. Justin used Jaipur as an example. Go to Google Maps and thousand of small streets are not even labeled (do they even have names?).

Hmm. Interesting. Might this be a good candidate for co-creation, getting locals to help create these maps in a social mapping kind of way? Is this an opportunity for a small local company to make it big? Like I said, we’re going to dig a bit deeper on this one. But if you have any suggestions, shoot away.

Image – The goat lives at an animal farm and museum in Kelvia Kälviä, Finland. One of the many things I did this summer.