Today Vlingo announced its official beta support for Nokia S60. This is a truly exciting step in the evolution of our business and initially will include support for the Nokia N95, N95 8GB, E51 and E71.

While we have attracted a significant and loyal following through BlackBerry and iPhone downloads, we also recognize that S60 and in particular Nokia represents by far the largest single path to widespread distribution. Consequently, I have been spending a good deal of my time recently showing Vlingo demos to various category groups at the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones – Nokia.

You might be forgiven for thinking of Vlingo as a US company; we did after all launch our first products in the US, but in fact Vlingo has grown to become an international consumer offering with customers worldwide and a European office in the United kingdom. It’s from that office that I conduct the day to day business with our customers and partners in Europe and since joining Vlingo just twelve months ago have been privileged to witness the growing tide of interest in Vlingo.

As a European and for those reading this blog in Europe, it will probably come as no surprise that Nokia stands head and shoulders above other mobile phone brands regards popularity in this part of the world, however, what is surprising to those outside of Europe (including many of my US friends) is the scale of their domination. In 2007 alone Nokia shipped over 450M devices, yes! That’s nearly half a billion, representing over 39% of all global device sales. Not bad for a company who originally thought the future lay in rubber boots!

Founded in 1865 in the Finnish town of Tampere (which they describe as the Manchester of Finland), Nokia has grown to become the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile devices accruing some 39% market share. In the distance (as at Q3 2008) they are (well not exactly closely followed), but indeed followed by Samsung with 17.3%, Sony Ericsson with 8.6%, Motorola with 8.5% and LG with 7.7%. And all this from a company Head Quartered close to the arctic circle whose market leadership some thought to be threatened by the Motorola Razor!

So of course, on the back of these staggering figures we are hugely excited to be embarking on this additional path and I personally have had the good fortune to spend a great deal of time recently in Finland with my new found Nokia friends ensuring that the Vlingo product meets with their very high and exacting standards. We hope very soon to be able to make some exciting announcements including our launch on Ovi Store. Ovi Store looks set to provide a truly great user experience for many categories of applications, including messaging, games, music, entertainment and much much more. So look out for more news.

For those carnivores amongst you making the pilgrimage to meet with this great leader of our industry, I can certainly recommend Reindeer from the watering holes of restaurant Tiiliholvi in Tampere or Restaurant Demo in Helsinki and be sure to pack warm close during the months of October through February when temperatures can drop as low as – 20 degrees (and that’s in European money!)

I’ve found the Finns to be delightful (even at airport security!) and the English language seems adopted almost everywhere. Nokia as you can imagine, plays a very large role in the economy as it is by far the largest Finnish company, accounting for about a third of the market capitalization of the Helsinki Stock Exchange (OMX Helsinki), so we are even planning a Finnish / English language variant to support the accent.

Please join us on this new Vlingo S60 journey and help us make Vlingo on S60 as big a success as BlackBerry and iPhone has become by signing up for our new language beta. We are looking for a limited number of people from the UK, Spain and Germany to try out the new version. Remember, this is a language beta so initial recognition accuracy may be less than you would see on our GA versions.

The beta will run through May 31, 2009. To participate in the beta go to the following links from your Nokia device.

UK English: vlingo.com/betaen
Spain Spanish:vlingo.com/betaes
German:vlingo.com/betade

Below are documents for your reference during the beta:

Vlingo FAQ
Vlingo Privacy Policy
Vlingo Terms of Service

For questions and support during the beta period please contact Vlingo via email at: NokiaBetaEN@vlingo.com

Ashley Griffiths, Managing Director, EMEA, Vlingo