Mar 26, 2008

An Open Letter To Nokia : Buy An Atlas!

It has been building up inside for months now, but today, I simply can't hold it any longer. Nokia, you need to open up your Atlas or your World Map and start looking more closely at it. Head to the east shore of the Mediterranean sea, right below Turkey and right on top of Israel, there, you will find a small area, called Lebanon.

This is where 4 million people live, and this is a country you have been neglecting or forgetting or not noticing for years now. No we are not Europe, we are not the States, we don't fatten your pockets every year with billions of dollars. But if there was a study of your marketshare here, if you could find one, then you would be astonished by the numbers. We have been loyal, very loyal to you, Finnish company, we swear by your built quality, we ravish over your designs, we have thousands of phone shops that have one of your devices in their logo or on their displays, we carry your devices religiously, we always ask about Nokias, and it's not unless there's a bigger motive that we buy another brand. Yet, you don't seem to notice that we exist.

Let's start from the beginning, Nokia. If I buy a new device, when I first fire it up, it asks me to input my country. My country, as far as I can tell, is Lebanon. I type L, and there I have it: Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. No Lebanon. No Lebanon! Are you kidding me? In order to have my time set right, I have to choose Egypt as a country. I have nothing against Egypt, but I am Lebanese!

Second problem. I recently got to try your Download! application. I admit, it's not the brightest thing I have seen, but it has some good potential. I guess I was too optimistic thinking I might just find half of the content that other countries have, with the same device. Oh how wrong I was. Just a couple of links, nothing special. I look at screenshots for other countries, and then look at my N95 and think "if only they filled one screen"(ie 12 icons). No they don't.

Edit: Another problem I have been facing is with Nokia Maps. When I first got the N95 8GB to trial, I searched the Maps website and saw that Lebanon wasn't amongst the countries supported for voice navigation. No problem I said, I don't need it, I just want to see the roads. Well, what do you think I found? Ah, one road. ONE freaking road in ALL of Lebanon! Would I ever be able to tell my friends that my device has GPS? NO! Because they would want to see it in action, and to tell you the truth, I don't think we can take a lot of action out of ONE road!

Third problem is the one that pushed me off the edge today. You know Share on Ovi, the new sharing service that Nokia just launched as a part of their Ovi bundle. The day it was launched, I clicked through the website, I got a "This service is not yet available in this region" message. I thought it still wasn't launched worldwide and held my breath. As the days passed, I kept checking to find the same message every single time. I filed an email to the Ovi product manager, and received a reply that there were social limitations that were preventing the launch of Ovi in the region. I thought "crap, here we go again, the Arab sticker is once more on our forehead!". A couple of days later, I clicked by mistake on some link that led me to Share on Ovi, and this time, the page loaded. I was ecstatic and created my own account, without uploading any picture. Two days later, I opened my account to get some picture uploading and there it was, the white screen of death, staring me in the eyes, again: "This service is not yet available in this region".
From then on, it was a one-day on, several-days off catch up game with the service. I only got to upload 4 or 5 pictures, just to see how it works. That's until a couple of weeks ago, when the service just went unavailable for the longest time. I gave up, I honestly did.
Then came my trip to Jordan. After coming back, I thought that Flickr would be a nice idea for uploading, but I needed a backup plan. So I tried Share on Ovi and yesterday, I was in heaven. I uploaded about a 100 pictures (from Day1 and Day2) using Shozu to both my Flickr and my Share on Ovi accounts. I was using both of them for the first time, and to tell you the truth, I found Share on Ovi to be a MUCH better solution. It gave me the choice to upload via email to a specific channel, it kept the picture in its original size, it gave me an organizing possibility right from my images pages, it allowed me to upload endless file types, it had a very very visible embedding link (with options to embed one image or a whole channel)... well it was Apple'esque. Yeah, you read that right, it had the simplicity of an Apple product. And for once, I was totally totally in love with a product from Nokia. I couldn't find anything wrong with it, from tutorials, to usability, to learning curve, everything was well thought. I had a glimpse at the future of Ovi, and I knew great times were ahead.

Being this pleased with the service, and being that I have enrolled in the S60 Ambassador program (with Share on Ovi being the first mission), I thought I would share the pictures I took with my friends from the trip. I sent them all links to my channels on Share on Ovi (and not Flickr). It was almost midnight, and I think none of them managed to catch it by then, since we were all still worn out from the trip.
I woke up today, and launched Share on Ovi again, to create my "Jordan Trip - Day 3" channel and start uploading, to get spanked in the face by the "This service is not yet available in this region" message, again! And a couple of hours later, the SMS's started arriving "we can't see the pictures on the link you sent us, what's the problem?".

What do you expect me to answer, Nokia? Huh, what do you want me to say? That you simply don't give a damn about us? That you are teasing us Lebanese with a one day service every now and then? How do you expect me to explain to people the philosophy behind Share on Ovi for the Ambassador program? How do you expect me to endorse that T-Shirt you are sending to everyone, if I know that if someone memorizes the site and visits it from my country, there's a 95% chance he/she will find himself/herself with a "not available" screen? And you know I love you, you know I will always support you, you know I have already been your Ambassador in Lebanon, I don't need a T-Shirt or a keyring to prove that. You know I will keep on typing every single day, and I will sigh every day I get the terrible message, and make good use of the day when I find my home page open. I will, I swear I will. But I don't guarantee other people will. They are loyal, but they are not stupid. They know when they are being laughed at!

Nokia, look at us, and don't forget us like the rest of the world has. Don't forget there's a small country called Lebanon, with 4 million people who have been faithful to you, for years. Don't forget that we are here: we don't have a president, our country is on the verge of disappearance, so it would make us a little bit glad if for once, someone, just someone noticed that we, as a country, exist.


  1. If it makes u feel better, we're 80 Million and Ovi doesn't work in Egypt :'( , they didn't bother releasing Egypt variant GPSless Nokias, Nokia is losing it's game here in Egypt, Imagine having the N93i as the top of the line, with other smart phones like LG Viewty and Sony erricsion K850i winning the sales game here
    though we've got a Nokia and Nokia Siemens Office here in Egypt

  2. Well it doesn't make me feel a lot better, because at least, you can type Egypt as your country when you launch your Nokia, and I can't type Lebanon as mine. This is just a laugh in the face. I mean, we don't even exist!

  3. You absolutely have a point. It would be funny, if it wouldn't be annoying: you're an ambassador for Share on Ovi...which doesn't work in Lebanon. WTF?! Although Romania is in the countries list, I have the same issue with Nokia Maps having a joke of a map for Romania.
    And also, I do think Share on Ovi (will they ever change that Twango domain?) is good. I never 'got' Flickr, therefore I rarely used such services (except for Picasa). But this one I feel is done the way it should be. Too bad you can't spread the word about it, since either it doesn't work in your country, or it has stupid hour-long downtimes and so on.

  4. Vlad, you do make a good point with Nokia Maps, it was originally in my rant, but I totally forgot about it after this Share on Ovi issue. I have added it to the post.

  5. You should not blame Nokia for lack of our service availability but your government. We "Share on OVI" doesn't want to block anyone. However, we where told that to maintain your goverment happiness because there is the potental of "objectable content" appearing on our site we need to block you.

  6. Hey, a little off topic but here it goes. Nokia may not know Lebanon exists but I know. It may not be much a comfort to you but I LOVE Lebanese food. It's the best in the world! The raw kibbeh is my favorite dish of all times and if I could I'd have it every day.
    Back to Nokia and its shortcomings, I live in the US and they don't care much about us either. For instance, the N95-3 (American 3G version) hasn't had a firmware upgrade in several months.

  7. Dan, Lebanese food is AWESOME! You should taste the Tabbouleh as we make it, and the other specialties.
    On the serious note, AT LEAST you can enter United States as your country when you first start your phone and it asks you to pick a country, at least you have some half decent maps (and not ONE only road in your whole country). And well concerning the update to the N95-3, my sources say it's in the works ;) *hush*

  8. Rita,
    when I lived in Brazil I used to have Lebanese food at least twice a week (there are so many good and cheap Lebanese options down there). My favorite meal combination was raw kibbeh (loads of it), tabbouleh, bread, garlic/eggplant pate. Hmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. In Seattle though, where I live now, there are simply NO OPTIONS! These Americans are too concerned about health issues and probably won't allow raw meat...
    Back to Nokia and their maps, have you tried Google Maps? Other than navigation, it's better than Nokia Maps. Oops, it requires data transfers. I remember you saying there's no 3G in Lebanon but should work fine on EDGE.

  9. Dan, you must be kidding me, right? There is NO edge here, and if there was, prices would be rocketing! Oh and Google Maps has 3 roads in Lebanon, 3 times more usable than Nokia Maps yet useless as all.

  10. You are kidding right? Lebanon?
    Hehehehehe! C'mon!!!!

  11. Rita, sorry to hear that. But aren't you going to a school in Europe sometime soon? Then you'll be able to enjoy everything, maps, 3G, the works.

  12. Well, Dan, I would've loved to have these in my own country... Doesn't work like this, plus the french (I should be going to a French uni) have some twisted explanation of the word "unlimited" and "internet". Seems their best offer is 20$ for 50MB of access to the whole internet (no VOIP, no P2P though), or 6$/month to access 24/24 the operator's closed web services (amongst which music, radio and tv). Weird!

  13. Nokia should definately know where Lebanon is. I know at least two finnish Nokia employess who have worked there as peacekeepers while they were in the military.

  14. Well matti, I know they know where it is, they just keep on ignoring it, that's the problem

  15. "Oh and Google Maps has 3 roads in Lebanon, 3 times more usable than Nokia Maps yet useless as all."

    Why this wrong propaganda ?

    There are much more then 3 streets on google earth.

    Plus all Lebanon is all in high definition from the satellite photo there ... something that is not true for Austria for example !


    ps: Anyhow ... I'm currently in Tunisia for work now ... it is lovely that in all country it is forbidden to access to YouTube ... Vive la liberte' !!!

    pps: Anyhow, you can use the GPS of your N95 also without Nokia MAPS ... there are tons of other Navigation SW ...

  16. Well, that is Google Earth, not Google Maps (the sis version). Only the satellite view lets me see the streets, but problem is that I can't use the Maps I created on the pc (My Maps) so I can't easily navigate through it.
    Even if I can virtually use any navigation SW on the n95 with the GPS, there is no known software that I know of that has lebanon maps, we are forgotten by everyone, or probably the lebanese road net is too much to handle for anyone ;)

  17. ... Rita ;-)
    I have been using a simple GPS Garmin Gekko 201 for years as "navigator"
    All I did need was to enter the GPS coordinate of my destination ... knowing my location, my direction and the location of the destination it allows in 99% of cases a success arrival to destination.
    For complex routes I did enter in my Garmin some "important points" about the street cross needed for stay in the right path.
    Plus, once you have been somewhere, since the Garmin did store the path, it is easy to repeat the same path (also in the opposite direction for go back home)
    On my Nokia E90 I did create a little Java SW that somehow emulate the basic Garmin functions ... since my belove Gekko got stole with my car (my E90 car :-( )
    Now, I use more often my SW then the Nokia MAPS SW.
    If you start to think out of the box, you will find many way to make your N95-GPS usefully even without the support of Nokia MAPS of Google MAPS.
    ps: If it can make you feel better, in Tunisia Nokia MAPS has tons of streets ... but half of them are wrong !
    pps: Make maps for a GPS device, with the streets of a country and keep them up to date is an extremely expensive work ... so ... if you understand business you my understand ...
    ppps: If you like to have your own city on the mobile ... so you may know when the sun rise ... you may consider to get a Nokia 9500 or 9300 ... there with S80 is possible to add and create new city ...

  18. If it's any consolation, some Middle Eastern countries have
    N-Gage stores before North American gets any.

    Not Lebanon though

  19. Ikona,
    Yeah gulf countries, like always. Sahara people get the coolest things! Argh.

  20. it is your government fault, it has not nothing to do with should rant to your government about it and not nokia..

  21. I am afraid the problem is not in Nokia as such. Maps are provided by TeleAtlas and alike (very few geodata operators), they are produced originally from aerospace digital imagery (VERY time- and money-consuming process), but then shall be verified by real human being on the spot. Now, I am not sure whether Lebanon was easiest place to find that kind of agent on-the-spot. I guess it will take time...

  22. Oh well, I can't choose Luxembourg as a country either.. I have to choose Paris or Berlin for my timezone, doesn't that suck?

  23. @othi no wonder - Luxembourg is not country, it is the Grand Duchy :)

  24. hi rita, sometimes we must look from different view, it could be libanon policy not to expose country area for national secutiry reason and nokia agree with that. i think both your goverment and nokia must conect each other like nokia conecting people.



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