Nokia, once the largest smart phone manufacturer in the world and a cornerstone of innovation, but nothing lasts forever. As Nokia spends millions on marketing their line of Lumia smart phones and partnering up with large development companies to bring the latest and ‘greatest’ applications and games to Windows Phone, they forget about the people who made them, their customers.
This tale of deception dates back to June 28, 2011. Nokia’s Ideas Project, a website dedicated to turning users’ application ideas into working applications by introducing them to developers through challenges, kicks off the Create 4 Millions contest. Participants had to enter their application idea which would add value and depth to the lives of people within three categories; Health and Education, Social Networking and Location as well as Games and Infotainment. The winner of each category would receive a Nokia dual SIM device as well as an all expenses paid trip to Nokia World 2011 in London, England, where their ideas would be developed into working applications.
On October 11, 2011, just two weeks before Nokia World 2011 is set to kick off, the winners are contacted through email with the following email:
Dear [Participant’s Name],
I’m more than happy to announce that our respected jury has picked your idea, [Idea’s Name] ([Link To Idea]), as one of the three winners of the Create 4 Millions idea challenge! Congratulations, [Participant’s Name].
And you know what this means? In addition to a Nokia dual SIM device, you are going to get a ticket to Nokia World 2011 and all the traveling costs are covered for you! The hotel has already been reserved for you, but now we need to reserve the flight and get your information to a Nokia Invitation Letter for visa, both asap. For that we need the following information from you, please reply as soon as you can:
Do you want to use our offer and travel to Nokia World in London on October 25-27, 2011?:
From which airport you what to catch the flight on Tuesday morning, October 25?:
What time do you want to leave London on October 27? You can choose to leave already in the evening on Oct 26 if you want.
Please fill in the following form for the Invitation Letter:
Date of issue:
Date of birth:
Arrival and departure dates:
We will reserve the hotel and fill in the Invitation letter as soon as we get this data from you. The invitation letter will be faxed to you, so please give us a number to a fax you have an access to. You need this letter in order to get the visa as soon as possible. Getting the visa is on your own responsibility and we recommend you to start working on it immediately, as getting it may take a while.
Please let us know if you have any questions considering the event or the arrangements! More information to come on the hotel, flights and the schedule.
Btw, do you have a Twitter account? I would like to announce the winners also in Twitter using your Twitter usernames.
One more time, congratulation!
[Community Manager’s Name]
Close to two weeks later, on October 24, 2011, the day before Nokia World 2011 kicks off, they send out another email:
Dear member of IdeasProject community,
Over the past six months, IdeasProject has been the destination for over 1500 new app ideas. Nokia World 2011 in London will feature a 36-hour “Hackathon” event to transform the best of those ideas into real applications on October 25-27. I’m happy to announce that one of those best ideas is yours!
Please find below all the top ideators and ideas to be implemented:
Sana Refai TN Red Heart TN http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/3837 Harri Kiljander FI Crowd Doodling Canvas FI http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/3773 Charles Cann US Panic Alert US & RSA http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/9852 Dion Guillaume RSA Panic Alert US & RSA http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/10999 Toshi Nakamura Did You Like It? RUS http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/9101 Oleg Ushakov RUS Did You Like It? RUS http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/9952 Ingrid Botes RSA Emergency Notifier http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/11026 Jessie Torres PHI News2Views PHI http://ideasproject.com/ideas/10019 David Spark US Similar person locator US http://ideasproject.com/ideas/3909 Atte Harjanne FI I’m Here FI http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/9820 Teemu Korpilahti FI Virtual Toilet Wall FI http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/9881 Ali Pitkänen FI Rapid alarm FI http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/3437 炀 涂 CN 穿衣搭配 CN http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/10480 Jijo Joseph Villanasseril IND Facebook Birthday App IND http://ideasproject.com/ideas/10197 Sussan JUMA KEN Public Service Vehicle Guide KEN http://www.ideasproject.com/ideas/12434
This is truly a historical moment, as your ideas will be the first ones ever to be implemented from IdeasProject ideas. We will publish an article about your ideas in IdeasProject on Wednesday, which you’ll find here on Wednesday morning. We will also set up a gallery of implemented ideas where you and your ideas will be celebrated, and we will tweet and FB about them, and brag about them in all possible ways. J I would like to link your Twitter and FB profiles to our social media announcements, so please provide me your Twitter username if you have one, and please like us on FB in order to enable hotlinks to your profile.
More details on the actual schedule and the progress of ideas to follow. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
One more time, congratulations!
[Community Manager’s Name]
On October 25, 2011, Nokia World 2011 kicks off. During the event Nokia announces the Asha and Lumia line of devices and their first Windows Phone devices are unveiled to the world. During all of this developers are couped up in a well lit, well stocked room in front of their computer screens for the “36-hour Hackathon” to develop these 11 ideas as well as other ideas on the Ideas Project site.
On April 12, 2012, the following email is sent to Ideas Project regarding the progress of one of the applications:
Hi thereI’m sure you guys remember me, Create 4 Millions 2011. I’d like some feedback on the Panic Alert application that was said to be one of the first 11 applications on IP to be developed by Nokia, which I co-idealised. Any progress on it at all, after 7 months? Any info would be greatly appreciated.Kind regardsDion
Dear Dion,Apparently the app is not yet ready. We’ll do further enquiry to our Developer organization about the current status .Best, IdeasProject team
Over three months later, after requesting an update on the application from the CEO himself, Ideas Project sends the following message on July 31, 2012:
Hello Dion:I have received information with regard to your reaching out to Stephen Elop with regard to PaniQ. I want to let you know I have been working on trying to resolve the issue already prior to your email. The developer was incented to publish the app, but has not done so yet. I have shared your idea with others who may have interest and I will continue to follow up to try to bring this to resolution.
I greatly appreciate and value you as a community member to IdeasProject. I am now heading up IdeasProject and that transition was made in an effort to bring Ideas closer to the developers. I reside in the developer organization and I’ve been working hard to put the things in place to automate this process and at the same time have been manually working on the items that have not been realized yet.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me personally. I greatly value your participation on IdeasProject.
[New Community Manager’s Name]
I’m just touching bases with you and welcoming a discussion if you would like to talk about your app idea. I know you reached out to Stephen Elop and I just wanted to offer a venue for a discussion with me if you’d like. We greatly value your contributions to the IdeasProject community and love your app idea. I will continue to see if there is an avenue we can use to deploy and develop the app.
Thank you and best regards,
[New Community Manager’s Name]
The following reply is sent:
Hi [New Community Manager’s Name]
Thank you for getting back. My main concern is that Nokia promised me and ten others that our ideas would be the first to be created by them from IP and that details would follow soon, that was in October and Nokia never got back.Thus we all just want updates on what’s being done with regards to the development of our ideas
Over a month later, another message comes through on September 5, 2012:
I hope you are well and I appreciate your email. I’m working to get your idea developed. As I mentioned in my last email, we had worked with a developer to develop your app and they ultimately didn’t publish it so we are working on alternative measures to get your app developed. Our partner AppCampus has many apps in the pipeline ahead of us so I’ve been pursuing other alternatives. I am currently talking with developers to determine availability and skill sets. I will let you know when I have an update and I assure you this is an important priority for me. I am taking great care of your app idea and I’ll be working to see it through. I appreciate you reaching out and I will let you know as things develop.
Thank you for your email and don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.
Wishing you a great day,
[New Community Manager’s Name]
Over seven months later, on February 20, 2012, a request for information is sent:
Hi [New Community Manager’s Name]
It has been almost seven months after we last spoke, any progress? I
know plenty of the other ideators that were promised that their apps
would be made, never got theirs made either. Care to comment?
The following reply is sent the same day:
Thank you for your inquiry and know that I have worked to get your app developed. Below you will find the detail of the actions I have taken to promote your app idea for development with our developer community. I hope that your idea will be of interest to developers at Mobile World Congress. However, I do recommend that it might be helpful to update the information by adding screen shots and detail to your app.
In the last two years we have also raised the bar on idea submissions based on developer feedback. We have learned a lot in the last two years and continue to customize our efforts for developers. Developers have asked us to provide ideas that are well developed with visuals, screen shots and ones that are ready to prototype. If you would like to increase the interest in your app idea by a developer, you may want to add screen shots and greater detail to your idea before Mobile World Congress. The link you have provided on the Ideas Project site for details on your app is broken or has been sent to the Archives of WordPress and this may be one reason that developers have not selected your idea. For your convenience, I have included a screen shot at the end of my email to share the error message I receive when I try to access the detail of your idea. If developers are unable to get additional details to understand the idea you have spelled out, that may influence whether they decide to develop the idea. Your app idea has been presented to developers many times, but to date developers have chosen other apps that appeal to their specific interests. People usually produce their best work when working on something that ignites their personal passion. We have a large community in Ideas Project and the number of good, innovative ideas that have flowed in over the last two years is amazing. If a developer cannot quickly gain an understanding of your idea and visualize what it may look like, they are likely to select another idea given the condensed time frames of developing at a hackathon.
Please also consider that your app idea is competing with all the new ones coming in to the site. We are constantly getting new and innovative ideas into Ideas Project and developers have shown interest in developing apps with the newest Windows Phone features. Developers are often most interested in developing ideas in line with the latest trends demonstrated in the community. Ideas Project charter is to inspire developers with app ideas that drive them to do their best work and create value for an evolving ecosystem that is competitive in one of the fastest moving industries on the planet.
Please see below for the actions I’ve taken to support getting your app developed.
1. Your App Idea was sent to All Hackathons
I have sent your idea and prioritized it at each hackathon. The issue is that sometimes we send these ideas to hackathons and developers choose different ones or bring one of their own. The current criteria for app ideas has changed significantly over the last two years and the ideas require screen shots and prototype detail as developers need to quickly understand concepts to complete work in the short time frame of a hackathon.
2. Submitted your idea was promoted to senior decision makers in AppCampus
I prioritized your idea with AppCampus and had it reviewed by the senior leadership. They have an overwhelming number of apps coming through AppCampus and they did not feel the app idea met with competitive standards of apps they are receiving and most submissions to AppCampus have a team of developers who are passionate about developing a concept of their own. Feedback from AppCampus and developers alike were the impetus for increasing the criteria for app submissions to include screen shots and a great deal of detail so that developers can fully understand the concept.
3. I have your app on the short list for a hackathon (it is only 8 hours) at Mobile World Congress and have invited 4 developers to MWC to develop ideas into apps at the hackathon
As is the case with all hackathons, the developers will pick ideas based upon their interests. Often they are looking to develop apps that encompass the latest technologies and apps that have market appeal with current trends. If you would like to add screenshots or detail to your app idea it is likely to get better attention from developers. I find they are visual and at hackathons if they don’t understand the concept right away they feel pressure to select a more developed idea that has already laid out.
We have booked 4 of our top developers to attend a hackathon at Mobile World Congress. These developers have a strong track record of creating quality apps that have been successful in the market and/or have a repeated pattern of success with Ideas Project. They are quite enthusiastic about being invited to develop an app and we have a great team of people with proven track records of success. We went through rigorous discussions internally and with the developers to ensure we selected the right people to attend as the hackathon is only 8 hours and there will be no time to waste. Your app is on the short list of ideas that developers may select.
As always, I greatly appreciate your inquiry and am happy to continue to work with you to encourage your idea with developers!
Wishing you warm regards and great success,
[New Community Manager’s Name]
The idea mentioned here, one of the eleven ideas mentioned to be part of the supposed “historical moment” for Ideas Project as the first 11 to be created, is PaniQ described in depth as follows:
PaniQ is, simply put, a mobile panic button.When in a sudden emergency, press the panic button, which can also be assigned a speed dial function, and the app sends your location, which can be determined using GPS and cell tower triangulation,to a list of friends, family or the police. PaniQ also immediately activates the voice recorder and uploads the clip to the internet while recording, just to keep up with what’s happening. You can also use the camera to take a picture or video of your emergency, like an assailant or victim, to upload onto the PaniQ servers. PaniQ is a free app that connects to social networks and displays your information to everyone when in an emergency. In a dangerous world, it will help you feel safer…
Of course though, Nokia and its award-winning developers could not decipher the idea to implement it. I have been tirelessly trying to track down the developer said to have developed the application, but to no avail. Surely if he could understand what was described, others could too, if he exists that is.
Speaking to most of the other ten people promised to have their applications developed on that faithful day in October 2011, I was shocked to find that none of their ideas were turned into working applications either. Conversations just like the ones above were exchanged between them and Ideas Project, but nothing came of it.
Informing Simon Botes, Nokia developer champion and founder of the successful application development firm AppCRAFT, who also happens to be the husband of one of the ideators promised that their applications would be developed, of the news conveyed to me regarding the ideas, on Twitter, I was informed that his firm offered to create the applications on November 29, 2011, but Ideas Project promptly declined. So much for trying their best.
Throughout this debacle, it became clear to me that Nokia did not have their customers’ best interests at hear. They had enough money to send bloggers around the world to attend their events, they had enough money to send almost anyone who asked a Lumia device, but they couldn’t create eleven simple applications?
Last year in June, they laid off over 700 developers, any one of them easily capable of creating those eleven applications, without any additional compensation considering he/she would be employed by Nokia and developing applications would be part of his/her job.
I used to be one of Nokia’s biggest fans, I operated a blog dedicated to them with some insightful pieces every now and then, including breaking some news such as leaks of upcoming devices and information, some accurate, some not, but I still did it with all of my soul. I was one of the first people in South Africa to own a Nokia N8 as well as a Nokia Lumia 800, I was also one of the lucky few people to own a Nokia N950.
But the brand I loved, failed me, and others. Ideas Project continues to strive with its many challenges that users win devices and other items for, but the ideas never materialize, a lot of innovation is ignored, skipped over because an ailing company doesn’t really care about the something that may just lead to them gaining back customer loyalty, to them creating devices and applications that matter and can compete in a market dominated by the likes of Android and iOS.
The likeliness of any of this ever happening though is slim. Nokia will read this and ignore it or even worse, try to sweep it under the rug. Ideas that were promised to be made, will be forgotten. Innovation will be ignored and people with real, world changing ideas won’t get to pioneer a positive change in civilisation, or their ideas will just fall in the hands of competitors who make it the next Nokia 808 PureView or Apple iPad, heck, maybe even an Apple iWatch…