Nokia & Dopplr, sitting in a tree…

by James Whatley on 5th October 2009

K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Ten days ago reports were coming in that Nokia had purchased the super smart online travel sharing service, Dopplr. The one liner that I dedicated to it in my last post ended with ‘apparently’. This was an addition which, at the time, made perfect sense.

Noppler?

Noppler?

You see, at the time of writing, the story itself had come from a source that TechCrunch described as ‘close to the deal’ but, no had yet come forward to confirm.

Then, one week ago, a rather short but sweet blog post appeared on Dopplr confirming the sale but not really releasing any further details on the intricacies of the deal.
However, there were some nuggets of information given away. The final paragraph in particular is key:

The acquisition does not change the current Dopplr service which is available at Dopplr.com and on platforms where Dopplr is integrated, like Flickr and Twitter. As always, if you so wish, you can get a copy of your data from your account.

See that?

First up. ‘The acquisition does not change the current Dopplr service…’. So this is good news right? Of course it is. I mean, you wouldn’t expect them to suddenly shut up shop right? All the users that currently exist aren’t going to all be poured into one large Nokia silo… are they?

The next thing to take away is the ‘…on platforms where Dopplr is integrated’ part of the sentence. Dopplr, my friends, is available on the iPhone.

But will it remain so?
According to the post from Dopplr themselves, we’re leaning towards ‘Yes’.
Time will tell.

Soon after the sale, Nokia also announced that Dopplr’s CEO, Marko Ahtissari, was to head up a new design and consumer experience unit within the Finnish HQ. Curiouser and curioser.

The big thing for me here is that as a service on it’s own Dopplr has never really proved that useful. Yes it’s fun to load in your trips on one of those dull days when there’s nothing going on on twitter and you’ve got a spare moment between emails, but has anyone here ever used it for what it is? Your ‘Social Atlas’?

Today, probably not.
But, in the future maybe? Yes. Maybe.

You see when the announcement was first made and the release landed on my desk, the first thing I instinctively said was ‘Makes perfect sense‘. Why? Well, you all remember Nokia announcing at Nokia World about their Social Location ambitions right?

You don’t? Let me remind you with the words from Nokia CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo:

“Automatically lets you avert traffic jams or crowds. By putting together your location, your contacts, you get mashups. I love this idea. Imagine what can happen when we mash up social networking and your location, when your device knows where you are, where your friends are and what they are doing. Your social location, or SoLo will become your here-and-now-identity.”

Combine that (ok admittedly rather vague) way of thinking into Ovi Maps (that’s the Ovi Maps that’s shipping on every mid-to-high-end Nokia device from now until forever by the way) which also, is now including their latest feature ‘Good Things’. You can begin to see where Nokia are going…

Good Things for those that missed it, is Nokia’s new way for Ovi Maps users to share their favourite places around the world. This is from the Nokia Conversations blog post:

It’s made up of three key elements. The first is the ability to spot Good Things on the map, where you can click on each one to find out more information, add it to a route or to your favourites. There’s also a live Good Things feed which shows the latest good things, as they’re added. And of course the key part is the ability for you to add your own Good Things. Once you’ve found where on the map you’d like to add, you just drag a Good Things pin onto the map to add it. Fill in a couple of details, walk through the security check and you’re good to go. You’ve made the mapped world a better place.

Make sense? Of course it does. User generated reviews populating your navigation. It’s all coming together nicely. Now let’s compare that to the contents of Dopplr’s about page:

Dopplr is a service for smart international travellers. Dopplr members share personal and business travel plans privately with their networks, and exchange tips on places to stay, eat and explore in cities around the world. Dopplr presents this collective intelligence – the travel patterns, tips and advice of the world’s most frequent travellers – as a Social Atlas.

What else can we add into this? Well, one of the really useful parts of Dopplr – one that I’ve been paying attention to of late, is the Carbon Calculator. Once your trips are complete, Dopplr, powered by AMEE, gives you an overview of your carbon emissions for that trip. Admittedly while there is no option currently to immediately recompense the climate for your travel, this information is handy for when you get round to doing it yourself.

It’s at this point that I’m reminded of several Nokia false start applications: Nokia viNe, Friendview and also, WE:OFFSET.

The former is a life-streaming service which was bascially a jazzed up version of Sports Tracker. Friendview, Nokia’s very own Google Latitude and of course WE:OFFSET, an application that monitors where you are and works out your emissions based on your methods of travel.

If Social Location really is the future as Nokia insist (and I’m leaning towards agreeing with them), what other mobile applications/services/experiments can they bring into the mix to really spice things up?

Your thoughts and comments as always, are welcome.

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