ONE INTERESTING TACTIC that I use to keep taxi drivers from talking about the weather, the politicians or the state of Rip-Off Ireland is to divert their attention to their phones. More than any other section of Irish society, taxi drivers have used their voice on cellular networks to connect with real business. I remember the incessant chatter from my very first taxi ride in New York City. Decades later, I remember the purr of a Mercedes engine interrupted by a datafax transmission onto the dashboard of a Finnish taxi. Its voice channel was muted. Today, I watched an Irish taxi driver call himself by talking to his car. He was over the moon because his taxi knew his voice. After we bonded (I was a fare worth EUR 50), he revealed to me that he could text or call his Avensis with his pocket phone (a trusty Nokia 6310i) and tell its passengers he was going to shut down the car and lock its doors. He was so impressed that through the magic of telematics, he could stop his car and lock its thieves inside. Then I pulled out my mobile phone (at left) and politely said that the Nokia N95 could do those things too PLUS they had maps more accurate than the strip map he used in his glove box.
Nokia would like to convert business phone accounts from devices manufactured more than five years ago. Joe the taxi driver sees no reason to abandon his trustworthy Nokia 6310i. It's still working, his 2007 car has accepted it into its Bluetooth circle of friends. When he backs out of his parking space, the taxi tells him when he has left his five-year-old phone in his jacket at the cafe or upstairs in his bedroom. So with all this natural synergy, why bother with getting a new phone and introducing it to his neighbourly technology? Because of the maps.
If Joe Taximan does not buy a map-ready Nokia N95, I think he'll buy a Garmin Nuvi 360 because its on-board Bluetooth will bind to his car and to his pocket phone. That Nuvi will cost him at least EUR 100 more than a Nokia N95 on a network subscription upgrade. Plus, the Nuvi map updates will cost the taximan more than upgrading his maps on a Nokia N95.
I'm not a Nokia salesman nor am I flogging the Nuvi GPS to unsuspecting taximen. But it's intriguing to watch the wheels of decision turning inside the mind of a guy whose late-night taxi work might be funding a daughter's college days. Reducing the number of wrong turns means getting more paying fares in an eight-hour period. It means cutting the costs of petrol. It means getting paying passengers to places quickly by using a smart map to divert around congestion, accidents or road works. Road hauliers and taxi drivers know this. I suspect some of them are already using the Nokia N95 in their drives but I haven't seen that first-hand. Perhaps within another year, when Joe and his buddies turn off their Nokia 6310i handsets, I'll spot one of them using a Nokia N95 in a cradle. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the product while underway in Ireland.
Image of Nokia N95 from Nokia Walletcard.