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April 21, 2009

One year of Nokia Conversations

ESPOO, Finland – Wow. Today is our first anniversary (we went public on 21 April 2008*) and it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished in one year. When we set off on this adventure, we sort of had our own ideas on how it would be received, what challenges we would face, and where we would be at this stage. But, we really came to this with open minds and few expectations, keeping us ready to grow and respond to conditions as needed.

As with many milestones, we’d like to pause and take stock of some of our highlights (and “lowlights”) and even think a bit about the coming year. Please read on and see if you remember the year the same way we do.

The Nokia N97 – Dropping out of the sky, the Nokia N97 came on the scene in December, during Nokia World in Barcelona. We were there with videos, interviews, and background stories. To us, it was our first big event, and we were swamped with traffic, comments, and video views. The N97 still draws a ton of comments and views whenever we write about it. A highly anticipated device, we are proud to be able to keep bringing you information and glimpses of this device as we rush towards release in June.

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic – Part of a series of phones that we highly admire, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic has held its charm ever since its launch last fall. The video we made [CS – on my dining room table with a new handycam and cheezy music I made in GarageBand] was our first big hit, and we have been writing about the device a few times a month. Even though there have been some bumps along the way, we still think this is one of the big devices for Nokia in 2009. And so far, we’ve been right.

Device launches – While Nokia Conversations is really not about tech and specs (there are many other sites better suited for that) we do try to announce devices and give folks a first glimpse and maybe some background story about the device. Indeed, the mix has not only worked for us, but for all of you, our readers. We get spikes of attention at every launch, and we see the level of attention some devices get when the rest of Nokia reveals less than we do. Some of our favorite device launches, in addition to the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, have been the Nokia E71, the Nokia N86 8MP, and the Nokia 5630 XpressMusic. Which were you favorite launches here on Nokia Conversations?

YouTube videos – Wow. We never expected our videos to be so popular. Sure, the device videos get the lion’s share of attention, but folks really like our other videos, interviews, and even the videos we’ve been making in other languages. You bet, we’re bent on producing more videos for you.

Design, Environment, and the Community Relations – One thing were are really happy about is that we are becoming more and more a place to talk about the Design, Environment, and the Community Relations stuff Nokia does all over the world. We’re quite pleased with the kind of articles we’ve written and discussion we’ve started, particularly around the environment and sustainability.

VoIP – While there might be a few things we missed, such as forgetting to link up to amazing sites, or actively ignoring some discussion that we didn’t feel we could add to, there is one real low point that we hit regarding Voice over IP in particular devices. In this case, Nokia removed something and left behind customers who had expected the feature to be there. We feel bad when a customer leaves a comment that they were left in the lurch. And we’re stuck between a company that has moved on and a frustrated customer. We’re still pounding the drum internally, but there is only so much we can do and this issue has shown that we sometimes will fail to reach a happy conclusion. [CS – And, please, let’s not kick up that thread again. The topic is stalled and exhausted at the moment.]

Some “maybes”
Nokia Care USA – On Day One, we received our first comment that required us to set things in motion. Amy Gahran had had a bad experience updating the software on her phone and called Nokia to task for it, for weak service in the US, and for odd pricing and return policies of phones. We tried our best to help. The real silver lining on this cloud was waking up Nokia Care USA to some issues and to start a process of improvement so that issues like Amy’s do not happen. Also, our team now has a close relationship with Nokia Care, alerting them to rising issues and discussions.

Comes With Music – While, as a service, Comes With Music is progressing modestly, we here at Nokia Conversations do not skip a chance to promote it or to point out where Nokia missed an opportunity. We are happy to keep telling everyone not only that it’s a great service, but that combined with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, it’s a sure winner. For us, it’s important to highlight stories even if the rest of the company is missing the point.

Twitter – The jury is still out on this one. We modestly set up @nokconv on Twitter to serve as a stream folks could follow to catch all our updates from our site, from YouTube, when we are at conferences, and to maybe interact with us. So far, we are really happy with the action, folks re-tweeting our links, and the traffic we get from the stream. So, while this is not a hit out of the park, we think it’s a solid start and is evolving nicely.

In the coming year
In the next year, we hope to continue growing. For sure, we are working on showing up in more places, for starters, in more places on and in your podcast app of choice with Blogbites. We also have a few things cooking and some that still need to be given the green light. But we hope to reach deeper into stories around leading products and services, becoming a bigger source of info during product launches. We also are pushing to get more local and in other languages.

And, for sure, we hope to keep bringing you device and service launches, stories from inside Nokia, and initiating discussion around interesting topics.

Thank you
We are but a team of four, counting on a stream of info and materials from wonderful folks from all over the company. So, we couldn’t have done anything without the help of all our colleagues here at Nokia. But, also, we could not reached this point without your support. The readership, engagement, and reach we have achieved (together) has made this little “experiment” something very important for Nokia.

And for that, I give you a warm “Thank you!”.

*When we started the team in early 2008, we knew we wanted the site to go live in April. When we were choosing dates we saw that 21 April was the traditional date observed for the founding of Rome. We figured it was a great association, and seeing that Rome wasn’t built in one day, it gave us a strong sub-text to tell any over-eager person expecting us to be some huge empire from the start. Heh.