A look at Nokia’s Recommender announcement and now I understand why Jonas Geust, Nokia vice president responsible for mobile entertainment products, was so guarded in his answers to my questions during this podcast. He was trying to tell me Nokia was placing the human at the center of its approach to music recommendations – without telling me David Bowie (whom Nokia regards as the “godfather”) would be among the humans suggesting cool music content to users on their mobile phones. I applaud this balanced approach to mobile content discovery. The mobile industry has recently become too enamored of content recommendations a’la Amazon for my tastes. (Recommendation technology – modeled on the approach of Amazon – suggests content on the basis of what like-minded customers consume, and so connects users with relevant content their peers recommend.) If users are going to discover and purchase the long-tail of content, then recommendations have to be at the core of all content-selling strategies. But the technology behind it all can and must be more than a new twist on old algorithms. UK mobile operator 3 gets it. Morgan Holt, 3’s Director of Media Innovation, recently told me that 3 is also looking at a way to include real human input in the content recommendations it delivers to us humans. “When you first enter a site you’re going to want a human being to steer you who really understands the content, what’s similar and what you’ve liked up to this point.” Once that is established, he said, recommendation engines can direct users to other relevant content. Nokia’s decision to tap the passions of music lovers to suggest content is a step in this direction – and it may be a path the rest of the industry has to follow. It will be interesting to learn how this move dovetails with Nokia’s own mobile search aspirations (and how it might wash with operators). And maybe Nokia will finally agree to an interview to discuss its take on mobile search and discovery. ;)
During the interview I did get, Geust set the record straight on LoudEye and said the end-game for Nokia is an end-to-end solution that “can be branded in different ways”. In short, Nokia’s aware a D2C music offer would likely alienate its main customer base of operators and it’s leaving the branding question open.
How much is enough?: “In terms of the content, you need to have the big catalogue available. You can’t really differentiate with a catalogue any more, you need to have a catalogue of enough music- more than 1 million songs.” But content is second to user experience. “The user experience needs to be easy and simple, that when you take your device out of your box, you get an easy-to-use familiar music experience that [fits] with how you are using the rest of the device.”
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