Nokia Beta Labs has taken the wraps off a new service, Nokia Listings, that is currently available only in the Indian market. Listings are available for three main classifieds formats – Jobs (from ‘Maid who can cook’ to ‘legal’), (Hyper) Local Services, and products (Buy and Sell). However, the ability to browse existing listings does not exist, and I think that is primarily down to Nokia using SMS as a carrier instead of GPRS: thus, live results aren’t available. Nokia Listings primarily targets the Series 40 handsets, but also works for non-touch screen Series 60 (S60) handsets.

As I found out while trying it on my E71, the experience while navigating menus on a S60 device has its issues, albeit nothing singificant. I thought Nokia might have preferred to keep the service device agnostic, and make it available on all its platforms.

Nokia’s approach to the service itself is quite interesting:
– Search: Nokia expects users to send a search request (with SMS as a carrier, I presume), and users will be sent results as soon as they are available.
– The hyperlocal approach: for cities, one can search and place listings for a specific locality. Nokia probably intends to surface results closest a users location
– One couldn’t/can’t browse services (as explained earlier)
– Specific information: If I’m searching for something as generic as ‘Electronic Items’ for purchase, I have to specify a budget and my location. One can’t submit the search without specifying a budget, but the truth about many a shopper is that they’ll look around without a specific budget in mind. Nokia Listings doesn’t allow that.

Given that the service is currently in beta, Nokia doesn’t have too many users for the service who are posting listings – either services available, or products (used or new) for sale. Nokia is thus trying two other things:
– Asking users if they want daily alerts (at Rs. 0 per day for 10 days) matching their search criteria. This can perhaps later become a paid service. Remember that Ver Se Innovations provides SMS based classifieds listings to users via telecom operators, priced at Rs. 30 per month.
– Asking users if they want to post a listing based on their search criteria, for example “post a listing on willing to buy eletronic items worth Rs. 10000 for 45 days”

Now above all, Nokia needs sellers for Listings: there will be many a buyer just browsing services, but unless products and services are available for sale, buyers will try to search, not receive any results, and then not return.

Nokia can try any of three things –
Remain a platform and tie up with a classifieds service like Quikr, OLX, ClickIndia or to power classifieds listings. A lack of listings will prevent take-off.
Try and surface deals to consumers: Group buying sites are trying to be hyperlocal, and there are many of them around – SnapDeal, Deals And You, Taggle & KhojGuru.
– Integrate listings with Nokia Maps: the ability to enable a layer of listings on Nokia Maps might help surface useful deal information for map users

Of course, Nokia will have to guard against two listings in particular: firstly, a flood of massage parlour advertisements in services, and ‘earn money from home’ ads in Jobs. The good thing is that users have to sign up to download the application, so Nokia can monitor their accounts.


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