To fend-off @eldarmurtazin ‘s “previews” Nokia created a secret leaker ident system. Wants to patent it now
Back in 2010, Nokia had a huge problem. They were unable to keep their unannounced new devices leaking to the net way before the official launch.
One of the most prolific Nokia leakers was Russian mobile tech journalist Eldar Murtazin, publishing full reviews of Nokia flagships weeks before the announcement and months before they shipped. At one time Nokia got so desperate, they sicced Russian police on him with a complaint that he is in possession of a stolen device. And, in a monumental publicity faux pas, even complained to the world about it on their official blog.
But those were the public steps that did not really work well for the Finns. So instead of further complaining , Nokia decided to do something about it internally. And a pretty clever software system to identify the source of the leaks was the result. It showed-up in Nokia’s patent application called “Method an apparatus for providing product source leak identifications”, today.
The leaker identification system relies on the fact that there aren’t too many prototype devices floating around before the phone gets into mass production. So Nokia will create unique, hard to notice user interface elements for each of them. It can be a compass or a clock hand facing in slightly different directions, a car displaced on a navigation app icon, or anything else. When a new prototype makes it into the leaker’s hands, and he publishes the live pictures with the device turned on, all Nokia has to do is check its database for the combination of these unique UI elements to know where it came from.
We don’t know if Nokia actually implemented this system or not. But these huge product leaks, with all the new product details reviewed well before the official launch, stopped in 2011. Nokia even managed a genuine big surprise in 2012, when it announced their first 41 megapixel 808 PureView device. And no big leaks came in the form of live device previews since then. The best we get is someone verbally describing the product specs and codename, maybe a blurry live device pic from China, and official press shots few days before the announcement.
So whatever Nokia did to beef up its internal security, seems to be working for now.