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Oops! Nokia apologises for bullying user site

Miffed about manuals

Nokia has said it regrets its heavy handed treatment of the leading site devoted to its communicator phones.

The Polish-based My Communicator website posts news, downloads and help for the communicator series, the newest of which, the 9210, got a splashy high-profile launch in Europe over the summer. It's often the first port of call for 9xxx owners, given that finding information in the Club Nokia and Nokia Forum mazes can take hours.

Michal Jerz who runs the site, also hosts the official Nokia manuals which - incredibly - aren't freely distributable. Without warning last week, Jerz received a fax from an English solicitor demanding that the manuals be removed. There was no warning from Nokia, and Jerz was given three weeks to comply.

It isn't the removal of the manuals that offended Jerz, but the manner it which it was done. "After all I've done to promote Nokia..." he fumed. Letters of support rained in on Saturday, variously offering to return their 9210 communicators, or urging him to get backing for a legal fight. Many echoed the view that given the lack of focus and quality in Nokia's official support - with which we can only agree. It's an invaluable site.

"I was given a kind explanation and apologies. Let's see what happens next," said Jerz in a message. "Let's wait and see."

On his part, Jerz has yanked his response and the supporting messages in support of the site, at Nokia's request, so clearly the phone giant is most anxious to avoid tainting its public image.

Here's a better way: Nokia shouldn't regard its documentation as a trade secret. Although it of course has every right to ensure users are reading the most up to date information, bullying communities is not the way to do it. After all, there are enough ancient SunOS manuals floating around the Web. But you don't find Sun calling in the lawyers to "prevent" users keying in instructions which might destroy their current Solaris boxes. ®

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