How Its Users Help Nokia Innovate

Remember the brouhaha when Apple told a third-grader to get lost when she wrote a letter to Steve Jobs about her ideas to improve the iPod?

Well, compare that to how Nokia treats its users' suggestions:

Nokia researchers didn't quite know what to expect when, in March, 2007, they posted a mobile phone application called Sports Tracker on a company Web site that is open to the public. The program, still a work in progress, was designed to let runners and cyclists take advantage of the global positioning capability included in some Nokia models. Users can record workout data such as speed and distance, and can plot routes.

The response to Sports Tracker was overwhelming. Eventually more than 1 million people downloaded the program and used it for sports the developers never dreamed of, such as paragliding, hot-air ballooning, and motorcycle riding. More importantly, the users avidly provided criticism that Nokia (NOK) then used to make improvements. Based on reader feedback, for example, developers added the capability to create online groups where users can share favorite routes and even photos they took along the way. "People were misusing the application in creative ways," says Jussi Kaasinen, a member of the team at Nokia Research Center in Helsinki that developed Sports Tracker.

You've heard of user-generated content? Sports Tracker is an example of how Nokia has begun experimenting with user-generated innovation. That's the premise behind Nokia Beta Labs, a Web site where the Finnish handset maker lets users test the latest smartphone software. Instead of people recording silly Web cam videos for YouTube or inventing frivolous advocacy groups on Facebook, they can help make the mobile Internet more useful.

The photo above is Sam from Accra, India Ghana, who sketched his dream phone in open studios set up by Nokia's design team where users can submit their best ideas.

Link: Article at Business Week by Kerry Capell | Nokia Beta Labs website - via Core77


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I think you mean Accra, Ghana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accra) (in fact it's the capital of Ghana). The only similar sounding Indian city I can think of if Agra, in North India (site of the Taj Mahal) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agra).
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Well, I can see how this works out great for Nokia:
By submitting this feedback I hereby grant Nokia worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free and assignable license to use, reproduce and have reproduced, modify and have modified, publicly perform and publicly display the feedback and distribute reproduced and modified copies thereof. Nokia may also incorporate the feedback or any concepts described in it in its products without a accountability or liability.

from http://www.nokia.com/betalabs/feedback

Not so sure how it works out as a great thing for users though. The apple issue was about receiving unsolicited ideas from users, to which the girl got a standard form letter from legal saying that apple doesn't accept unsolicited product ideas. Nokia got around this by having any feedback given to them on the site become their own property. Innovation? Well, I guess. ;)
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