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Nokia: Our community is the best money can buy

Wouldn't be here if we didn't pay 'em

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Who says there's no honesty in tech marketing? We beg to differ, and present Nokia product manager Janne Jalkanen as proof to the contrary.

Speaking at a marketing website called Nokia "Conversations" ("Stories from around the neighborhood" - it says), Jalkanen gives a very frank overview of the grassroots enthusiasm for Nokia's S60 platform.

"Pretty much the only community around S60 is the community we pay to be there," says Jalkanen, "a few lone, strong, awesome warriors notwithstanding".

He's speaking in a personal capacity, but is actually saying much the same as Symbian's John Forsyth, here, only without the wishful thinking. But what a great metaphor for the Finns' oh-so-earnest attempts to manufacture grassroots enthusiasm.

Nokia didn't invent the idea of astroturfing, but more than any company in the Noughties, it's taken it to heart. Nokia's Ambassador program turns participants into walking billboards - get a phone, and talk about it in the hope someone will hear it. And that's just the tip of the "social media" iceberg. Never have so many freebies been thrown at so many bloggers - with so little to show for it. For as soon as anyone starts talking (or commenting) about how delightful these products are, you know you're listening to a paid-for robot. This cheapens everyone.

(We put this down to the corporate equivalent of a midlife crisis.)

Now what a contrast with Apple. Many of you find the Apple cult downright creepy - and it is. But there's no doubt that the enthusiasm exhibited by fanboys (and fangirls) is genuine. There are few sadder sights in London than the "flagship" Nokia Store on Regent Street, almost directly opposite Apple's temple.

This gleaming, high budget glass and steel designer affair is an homage to the Apple store on which it's modelled. Floor and ceiling are silver birch, apparently "inspired by the forests of Finland".

Only there's nothing to buy - just a few phones behind museum-style glass cases. Consequently the only humans in the store you'll ever see are the staff.

The Casio store on Carnaby Street, I noticed this morning, is a-buzz. Do Casio need "social media"? Or do they just make stuff people actually want to buy? ®

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