During this spring Nokia has been seriously stepping up in the student community with the Windows Phone platform. Fair enough, throughout the 00’s Qt has been very much marketed towards the blossoming young coders; but then again, during those years of reign it really came more natural and easy. I must say now it slightly feels like they are stepping in to the bandwagon they should have been steering all along with Microsoft.
From the moment the Nokia-Microsoft deal was announced – until now, the one true promoter of the WP7-app development has been Microsoft and Microsoft alone. And please note, that I’m talking from my personal point-of-view, though I suspect this is the case outside Finland too. Well it seems things are changing for the better and Nokia too is understanding the value of, not only quality apps, but the developer community to make them possible for businesses.
Well, like I said, things have changed. This week Nokia -along with Microsoft Finland’s help- hosted a great hackathon-event for the top 40-ish Finnish Imagine Cup, Windows Phone-challenge attendees. Of course there is also the collaboration in the Imagine Cup itself, but this was an extra delight for a bit larger crowd. Not to mention, being invite only there was a certain atmosphere of luxury. There were of course also some added benefits, such as getting to talk to Nokia’s HR about the summer opportunities and getting to show off your skills to representatives of one of the biggest technology enterprises in Finland.
The event itself was kicked off on Wednesday morning at Espoo’s Nokia House, the head office of the corporation, where the hosts got to introduce themselves and we, the guests, got to get in the mood in the Nokia Lounge, poking on some of the latest devices (Lumia 900 has a big-ass screen by the way). After the formalities, we hopped on a bus and headed over to hotel Aavaranta in Kirkkonummi, got settled and got to work.
The following 24h hours went roughly like so:
- Noon: Frisbee golf
- Afternoon: A User Interface challenge and a review
- Evening: Dinner, Sauna
- Night: A context-awareness challenge. There was some searching of the Ballmer peak going on here.
- Morning: Review and breakfast.
- Second day: The last challenge, which was to conceptualize some easier ways for a customer to get in touch with the Aavaranta staff.
- Second day evening: A dinner at the heart of Helsinki and the prizes and winners of the hackathon announced. The Winning team walked away with Lumia 800s.
There were some things I would probably do differently in the future, mainly to keep the scoreboard hidden, since that kinda killed the motivation for some of us. Proper feedback for the products and a clearer definition on the judging criteria. Also some motivational stories or samples of what they are looking for would have been nice. This time the focus seemed to be on utilizing as many WP7 features as possible, whether it makes sense or not, however this was never advertised.
Tuomo Saarikivi, the guy MC’ing the event announced that this would not be the last of it’s kind and it certainly should not be. The value might be difficult to demonstrate to the business, but it’s all about creating a community and getting people to devote their skills to something they feel has a real future. That’s the proper way to invite the really enthusiastic developers to your platform, not just the ones some huge software house trains to meet some dull, grey business needs. And IMHO that’s the way to get those great, innovative apps to launch on your platform, not just getting ported at some point after the buzz dies down.
About the Author
Jesse Santtila (@JesseSanttila)
Jesse is an IT student at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He loves technology, gadgets, design, punk rock and video games. He has been lately very excited about the upcoming Finnish startup-scene and brilliant ideas people come up with.