Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great product, but so hard to get

It's often said that Finns are good in technology but poor in marketing. Let me give you an example of that.

Nokia has long time ago created Sports Tracker, an application that will record and store your exercices. The solution is one of my favourites and I use it regularly to track where I've been when running, cycling and rollerblading. During excercises I use Polar heart-rate monitor to ensure that intensity is at optimal level and I don't start with too high speed. Sometimes I've dreamed of combining mobile phone and heart-rate monitor into one.

Good news is that Nokia and Polar have now created the solution that does exactly what I've wanted. With a special Polar heart-rate chest belt you can send the information to Sports Tracker application and later upload the training info to the website. You can see where you've been and how effective the exercise was. I have tried this combination and and it is - literally - breathtaking experience. Wow!

There's only one problem: this solution is almost impossible to buy!

First when I heard about this product, I went to Nokia flagship store to buy just the chest-belt - after all I have N96 that is same generation product than N79 that comes bundled with the chest-belt. I learned that chest-belt is not sold separately and I should buy the bundled N79 if I wanted this small piece of hardware. Didn't want to do that.

Then I went to the Polar website to see where chest-belt is available, maybe Nokia just doesn't want to sell that alone. Result was the same, belt is not available and their support forum has some angry discussion because of that.

Nokia's own customer website doesn't seem to know anything about this combination anymore, N79 product page is silent about Polar integration, Sports tracker site promotes other N-series devices and so on. From one Finnish webshop I can see that by ordering the N79 + chest-belt bundle I could get the product in one week with 45€ extra price compared to standard N79.

Nokia and Polar, can you hear me: you have created a superb product, please put power to marketing and start selling! It's not good business to play hide'n'seek with customers. To Nokia: this is something that makes digital convergence and internet services real, not just hype. To Polar: don't be afraid about cannibalizing your traditional market, this combination doesn't compete against your high-end heart-rate monitors.

Great engineering, poor marketing.


No comments: