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Nokia bigs up innovators... kinda

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Nokia has announced the winners of its innovation competition - it's one ported from Android, one old idea made new and one pre-installed slideshow, but at least the special award is interesting.

Finalists in Calling All Innovators competition were listed two weeks ago, and we saw little in the way of innovation back then, so now we have three winners and one special award of $10,000 to a building-block scripting language called MoBots - the only real innovation at the table.

Mippin's RSS-style widget won the Internet Innovation award, which would be more impressive if it hadn't been developed for Android first and then ported to the three Nokia handsets* that support home-screen customisation. In the Flash category the award went to Tui Interactive Media for a slideshow showing a news feed from Reuters, which happens to already come pre-installed on every Nokia N97 handset.

In emerging markets it was the credit-card terminal from 2C2P that snagged the prize: probably quite useful, but not exactly the cutting edge of innovation.

Those winners get a share of the $250,000 prize money, and that all-important premium placement in the Ovi store. But the really innovative application only got a $10,000 Special Recognition award, despite offering non-technical users a way to get their mobile phone to do rather more interesting things.

MoBots is a scripting environment using building-block analogies to create automated scripts that execute on the phone. Reminiscent of the Lego Mindstorms programming environment, scripts are created by fitting different kinds of blocks together to form program triggers, conditions and actions.

The developers, whose primary business is space craft, provide an example of a script which automatically responds to missed calls with a pre-set text message - but only if one is attending a specific nightclub at the time.

Providing a way for non-technical users to create scripts to make their phones perform actions at specific times, or in certain places, seems genuinely innovative to us - surely more so than a widget that displays the news in a slightly different way. ®

* Since you ask, it's the N97, the 5800 and the 5530.

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