Here we go again. We’ve all heard this exact same story before, only this time it’s with Russians. In a scenario reminiscent of Apple’s leaked iPhone 4 prototype that surfaced in a beer house, it looks like Nokia has gotten itself into trouble of its own with an unauthorized N8 smartphone prototype held in possession by Eldar Murtazin, editor-in-chief of Russian gadget site Mobile-Review.
In the company’s official blog, Nokia has emphasized that it is well aware of Mr. Murtazin’s possession of the product, who has been very public about it since he acquired it. Murtazin published a detailed review of the N8 a few months ago, complete with hardware images from all angles, software UI snapshots and negative overtones of the overall functionality of the device compared to flagship offerings from the Android and iPhone camps.
Not surprisingly, Nokia responded with a blog post entitled “One of our children is missing," detailing the severity of the issue and demanding the device be returned. This wasn’t the first time a Nokia product appeared online before it had been announced, however. But in this scenario, it seemed that the perpetrator openly flaunted his ability to acquire the company’s intellectual property and a pre-production prototype with dated software that was far from ready. As a result, Nokia simply responded in its defense to maintain control over the leaked and ruined plans in its marketing agenda.
Now, the company has asked Russian authorities for help with retrieving its prototype N8 smartphone from Murtazin. Nokia explains that it had formally requested Murtazin to return “all unauthorized Nokia property,” which he apparently didn’t respond to. According to a blog post by Murtazin, however, it appears that he attempted to contact Nokia on several occasions and never heard back. In retrospect, the scenario sounds all too reminiscent of Apple engineer Gray Powell’s media frenzy back in late April after losing a prototype handset that was apparently destined to be the next-generation iPhone 4. The stranger in the bar who spotted his phone and stashed it in his pocket attempted to call Apple on several occasions. Unfortunately for Apple, none of the customer representatives took him seriously and all he got for his troubles was a ticket number. What fascinates us about the situation, however, is the idea that both Apple and Nokia had experienced the losses of two precious smartphone prototypes at relatively the same time period. But it was Apple who received the oversaturated press coverage, viral analyst hype and excessive blogosphere predictions while Nokia’s N8 sat in the corner without a sliver of appreciation.
In Nokia’s defense, the company claims its move on Murtazin is unrelated to his recent criticisms of the company and its products, and it has no intention to have his blog shut down. “We have to emphasize that Nokia takes all matters relating to the security of its products, confidential and proprietary information and intellectual property very seriously,” says Phil Schwarzmann, Editor-in-Chief of The Official Nokia Blog.
Murtazin has recently shared his side of the story in an email, claiming Nokia is trying to portray him as a blogger and not as professional journalist that he is. He also reveals that he has never received any letters from the company, and explains that he’s continuously attempted to contact Nokia’s PR team but hasn’t heard back from them for months.
Early prototype of the upcoming Nokia N8 smartphone