Nokia Sends Police To Get Phone From Blogger

Russian authorities are called in to collect a missing Nokia N8 prototype.
Nokia on Wednesday said it has sought help from Russian law enforcement to recover an unreleased smartphone from a Russian blogger.

On April 26, Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin published a detailed review of Nokia's unreleased N8 smartphone on his Web site He characterized the device as a disappointment.

The following day, Nokia responded in a blog post titled, "One of our children is missing." The post notes that "an early prototype [of the N8] made its way to someone that wasn’t supposed to have it." It skewers Murtazin's review for criticizing the unfinished nature of the device's software in light of the fact that prototypes by definition are unfinished.

Nokia insists that it's not trying to silence a critical blogger by involving Russian police. "At Nokia, we pride ourselves on being an open and transparent company," its July 7 blog post says. "However, the protection of our intellectual property is something we take very seriously."

Nokia's post suggests that Murtazin's consulting work for other international mobile handset manufacturers takes this case beyond issues of journalism and into the realm of theft of trade secrets.

In an article published by Russian news agency Interfax, Murtazin suggests Nokia's decision to involve Russian authorities may be motivated by the desire for publicity. The company, he says, is trying to stir up interest in its new phone.

In his recent Twitter posts and on the blog's Facebook page, Murtazin claims that Nokia is misrepresenting how it handled the situation.

Murtazin's criticism coincides with the dimming of Nokia's financial prospects. In June, Nokia lowered its second quarter financial estimate, citing the competitive environment at the high-end of the market -- where the N8, the iPhone, and various Android phones play.

Nokia is scheduled to report its Q2 results on July 22.

Nokia's situation is somewhat similar to that of Apple, which recently had to seek the return of a lost iPhone prototype that had been sold to tech blog Gizmodo. Apple too brought in the police in an effort to establish Gizmodo's improper involvement in an alleged theft.

Both cases underscore the demand for technical details about new smartphone models and the difficulty of keeping such valuable information secret.