Nokia's Contacts for Ovi - the Finnish manufacturer's answer to MobileMe - was down for most of yesterday and has lost all amendments made since January 23 when the last backup was taken.
Unlike its Cupertino-based competition, Nokia has come completely clean about the problems, explaining in detail that a cooler broke down causing the Chat server to crash, taking the main database with it. The company really is very sorry, in the words of the "Contacts for Ovi" product manager:
Words can’t explain how incredibly sorry we are for the inconvenience. We’re sorry for the lost contacts in your phonebooks. We’re sorry that the profile pictures you love, and we love too are gone. Nothing can make this right, we know, but we’re hoping that you can forgive us and give another chance to give you good service.
Which is in stark contrast to how Apple responded when MobileMe suffered its various and multitudinous teething problems. Of course, Contacts for Ovi isn't the same scale of operation as MobileMe, though Nokia has aspirations in that direction and is still offering the service for free in an attempt to gain some market share while trying to work out how to make money from synchronisation.
Cloud synchronisation is ramping up to be the next big thing: Microsoft will be launching its (free) service next week, and the open-source Funambol snuck out a new version this week with support for a quoted 1.5 billion handsets, for anyone else wanting to set up their own synchronisation service.
So situations like this are something Nokia could do without, though given the scale of the problem it's probably a good thing Contacts for Ovi doesn't have too many users - Nokia should have the chance to increase stability before paying customers start arriving. ®