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Nokia To Sshutdown ‘Mosh’ Networking Site

March 19, 2009

Nokia put its customers in charge when it launched its Mosh networking Web site in 2007, allowing users to post any content they wish as part of the company’s push into the delivery of new Internet services.

Now, just two years later, the company is abandoning the site, which had attracted a wide global audience in contrast to some of its other fledgling services.

Mosh is a basic website customized for use from any smartphone or feature phone, and can also be used from a PC. Users have compared the site to those during the Internet’s infancy, when people could access content and freely share it with others. The site has reached 137 million downloads to date, without any significant marketing push.

“We don’t know where it exactly goes and we are not entirely in control,” George Linardos, one of Mosh’s founders, told Reuters shortly after the site was launched.

Although no official date has been announced for shutting down the site, Nokia is set to launch its Ovi store in May, merging its software Download store with widget service WidSets and Mosh.

Similar to the Internet, Mosh attracted a plethora of pornographic material, and also triggered tensions between the world’s largest mobile handset maker and record labels, with whom Nokia works to provide its music offerings.

“It was never going to last forever, I’m surprised that it lasted this long,” said artist Derrick Welsh, a Mosh user who goes by the name “moshing.”

Welsh told Reuters he could not access Mosh from a public computer room of an art gallery in Britain because of its explicit content.

Nokia is the first handset maker to establish a substantial presence in the content space with services like its N-gage gaming service, music store and the upcoming online Ovi media and application store.  Ovi will be a direct competitor to Apple Inc.’s App Store, which at more than 500 million app downloads in just six months has demonstrated the market for software supermarkets in the mobile world.

David MacQueen from Strategy Analytics said Nokia has learned many lessons from Mosh, such as how to run an open store, how to quickly get developers’ products to market and how to best take advantage of user recommendations.

“Mosh will die, but I would contend that in many ways the new Ovi Store is the child of Mosh rather than the child of Download,” MacQueen told Reuters.

The company has not disclosed the number of users for its other new services, which are being slowly unveiled throughout various parts of the world.

The new Ovi Store is the official reason Nokia says it is shutting down Mosh.  The company says it is combining smaller services into one and will begin charging for their use.

“As a content provider, revenue from the downloads would be welcomed,” Welsh told Reuters.

“My wife likes what I’m up to, but she does want all this research to actually generate some cash one day,” said Welsh, who is looking into ways to expand messaging on phones.

However, users will no longer have total freedom in posting their content, as Nokia says it will review all material before it is added to the Ovi store.

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