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     Volume 6 Issue 48 | December 14, 2007 |

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Celebrating a Virtual, Mobile World

The Nokia World 2007 held in Amsterdam on December 4 and 5 has been a journey into the exciting possibilities offered by the convergence of the internet and mobile technology that is taking users of both by storm.

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Markus Terho, Director Environmental Affairs, Customer and Marketing Operations, Nokia talks about the company's green technologies.

The biggest question mobile companies seem to be asking themselves lately is: What do young people really want? The answer may not require much ingenuity, even a superficial survey will conclude that people, especially the young and the restless, want to be entertained almost 99.9 percent of the time. What does require a lot more imagination is how to keep them entertained in this age of hectic lifestyles, short attention spans and the demand for something new all the time. Technology undoubtedly has the key to capture young minds and keep them hooked as long as it can bring something 'cool' and different to the scene. Young people like techy stuff and just adore the internet; they like to chat, make new friends in Facebook, play endless hours of video games and of course are addicted to music which they often download from countless music websites. They also like to browse the net and search for all kinds of things fashion updates, news on their favourite movie stars, latest album releases, lyrics of songs, new people to talk to and even information for homework. And they like to share what they experience, their holiday photos or wedding snaps or just a picture of something interesting they are doing at a particular moment. The Nokia World 2007, held in Amsterdam last week a grand extravaganza of expositions, seminars and presentations under the banner of 'Share more. Experience more' gave a rare glimpse into the rapidly changing innovations in mobile technology that have gone far beyond its original use as merely a phone on the move.

The scale of the event testified the level of interest in innovations in mobile technology. Around 3,000 people attended including analysts, journalists, bloggers, carriers, content owners, programmers, retailers etc. and the event was webcast live to viewers all over the globe. On the first day, December 4, the halls of RIA, Amsterdam's humngous Congress centre was buzzing with people, some who had come halfway across the world and looked it too. The event kicked off with host Mark Selby, VP Multimedia, Nokia, who gave an outline of the two-day event and a few stats on how mobile users are hooked onto their devices: up to a quarter of the entertainment consumed by people in five years time will have been created, edited and shared within their peer circle rather than coming out of traditional media groups. This phenomenon, dubbed 'Circular Entertainment', has been identified by Nokia as a result of a global study (that included research from its 900 million users) into the future of entertainment.

RAI Congress Centre, Amsterdam

“We think it will work something like this” said Selby “someone shares video footage they shot on their mobile device from a night out with a friend, that friend takes that footage and adds an MP3 file - the soundtrack of the evening - then passes it to another friend. That friend edits the footage by adding some photographs and passes it on to another friend and so on. The content keeps circulating between friends, who may or may not be geographically close, and becomes part of the group's entertainment."

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, President and CEO, Nokia described the present time as the 'dawn of a new era' with exponential growth in mobile use: 3.2 billion mobile users by the end of 2007; in other words 1000 new mobile users every minute or 60,000 every hour. He added that the number of 'feature-rich' power-driven device users had surpassed the 200 million mark. Kallasvuo pointed out that the power and popularity of mobile communications lay in the ability to connect people and be sources of information making it easier for people to express hopes, ideas, dreams etc in new ways, although the device is the same. “Consumers expect internet access to be instant and as easy as text messaging or talking on the mobile”, he explained giving the example of Shifter, a programme in the set that can locate the products one wants at nearby stores thus providing “more choices to more people in more places”.

Nokia's CEO who has been with the company since 1980, brought on another aspect of business that is gaining popularity all over the corporate world- coming up with greener technology.

A panel discussion with Nokia CEO and President Olli Pekka Kallasvuo and other executives.

“Environmental sustainability is not just the right thing to do but the only thing to do”, he said “it must be reflected in what we do each day. We must all work together to do this.” Nokia's new energy-saving charger for instance reminds the user to unplug the charger once the charge is full, thus cutting unnecessary energy use. Nokia has also introduced smaller packaging which has reduced materials by 54 percent according to Kallasvuo.

“This means using 5,000 fewer trucks to distribute the products so reducing carbon emissions.”

Kallasvuo added that the company saved around 100 million euros as a result of these steps thus making environmental friendly methods a lucrative strategy.

Nokia in fact, has taken its intention to be greener a step further with its Nokia 3110 Evolve, 50 percent of its raw materials are renewable and it uses 94 percent less energy.

Lucian Grainge, CEO Universal Music Group International at the launching of Comes with Music.

Nokia has also introduced the concept of taking back old and obsolete mobiles in exchange of incentives (like discount vouchers) in 85 countries so that some of the materials can be retrieved and recycled. Metals like gold and silver for instance, are used in jewellery while plastics can be used to make products like pipes.

Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Multimedia talked about Nokia's strategy which has been to understand the relationship between human behaviour and technology. Forty percent of users for example, use their mobile as a music product and browsing has become a key experience, thus mobile companies are fast springing up with new editions with more and more internet-related features. But Nokia's consumer research has also found that what users really want is have access to all services but in an easier way.

This is where Nokia's upcoming Ovi which means 'door' in Finnish comes in; it allows consumers to easily access their existing social network and content, acting as a dashboard to a person's life.

"Ovi combines the mobile, PC and web environments into an easy to use experience with common user interface elements that provide consistency and simplicity," said Vanjoki. "We started the Ovi services rollout with the individual services in navigation, music and games, and the next step is to provide an integrated experience. The complete Ovi environment and new services will be rolled out continuously throughout 2008."

During the event the company announced Nokia Comes With Music, a ground-breaking programme through which a person can buy a Nokia device with a year of unlimited access to millions of tracks from a range of great artists - past, present and future. Once the year is complete, customers can keep all their music without having to worry about losing it when their subscription expires.

"We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for - all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC," said Vanjoki, "Even if you listened to music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you would still only scratch the surface of the music that we're making available. Comes with Music fulfils our dream to give consumers all the music they want, wherever they want it, while rewarding the artists who create it."

The programme will launch with Universal Music Group International, and Nokia is in discussion with the remaining major international labels.

"It's fantastic to work with Nokia on Comes With Music," said Lucian Grainge, Chairman/CEO Universal Music Group International, who was at the event to launch the programme. "We feel it's an innovative way for people to discover and enjoy new artists, while at the same time having access to the amazing depth of the Universal catalog. Comes With Music allows our artists to reach new audiences in a very easy and affordable way."

The term 'technology leaders' kept cropping up every now and then during the two-day event. These are people who actively seek out new mobile applications and services explained Phil Brown, Nokia's VP of Sales and Marketing. Fifty-five percent of N series users have stopped using their stand alone MP 3 players as the 5310 and 5610 Xpress Music phones are better than stand alone players claims Brown. Meanwhile three-fourths people with N series are using their handsets to share and upload photos, two thirds storing and sharing communities of music, a half playing games and another half browsing the web.

The key themes at the event included 'more fun', 'more innovation', 'more collaboration', 'more value' and 'more opportunities'. Expositions exhibited all of Nokia's latest innovations as well as applications that can be used in the future.

It is hard to say whether we use technology to fit the needs of the time or whether it is the technology of the moment that dictates how we will live. Some may question if we really want most of our life to be confined into a device that stays in our pocket, others may argue that nothing could be more convenient. But as we get increasingly sucked into the world of the virtual there is no doubt that the marriage between internet and mobile phone technology is one that will leave very few people untouched in the future.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007