Nokia fails to do their homework, “Lumia” translates to prostitue in Spanish

hookers

Marketing people have a difficult job when it comes to naming their company’s products and services. They need to make sure that the branding they’ve thought up doesn’t mean something offensive in a different language. Take for example Apple’s recent launch of the iPhone 4S. The highlight feature, Siri, translates to “ass” in Japanese. Likewise Gerber, the famous baby food brand in the United States, translates to “vomiting” in French. And in the Nordics Honda had to rename the Honda Fitta to the Honda Jazz, because Fitta is Swedish and Norwegian slang for vagina. This is why handset makers like Nokia typically issue product names that are nothing more than a seemingly random string of digits. Two recent devices that Nokia have announced, the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800, obviously have the prefix “Lumia” attached. In Finnish it means “snow”, but in Spanish it unfortunately means “prostitute” according to MSNBC.

Will this folly translate into fewer sales? Of course not, but it does mean that Nokia desperately needs to rejigger their ads and retail packaging when they introduce the Lumia in Spain. Oddly enough, Spain is one of the initial launch countries for Nokia’s first Windows Phones; the other countries being UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. This likely means Nokia failed to notice the mistake, so expect to see a lot of smiles in Spanish phone shops as people start cracking jokes about Finnish prostitues, how much the Lumia 800 will cost to use per hour, and how often one should take their Lumia 800 in for service to get tested for … bugs.

Naming aside, what do you guys think of the Lumia 800? Is it attractive enough that you’ll consider switching from your current smartphone to a totally new platform? This author is going to hold out until Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, ships in late 2012.

  • Anonymous

    Stefan, this has been widely debunked. Lumia is not a commonly used word in Spanish at all. In fact, it is a very obscure word from old Gypsy slang that no one uses. The real world impact of this name in spanish is therefore zero. Outside of course ill informed posts like these.

    • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

      Still makes for a hell of a headline.

      • pajero

        “Still makes for a hell of a (Cheap)headline.”

        Fixed that for ya…

        • http://www.intomobile.com/ Stefan Constantinescu

          Thanks!

      • http://www.gtdaily.net/?source=disqus George Tinari

        It also makes Nokia a pimp.

  • Saintchyril

    and Silit (the German kitchen appliances producer) means “butt crack” in Indonesian’s Javanesse language

  • http://www.segana.co.uk segana

    In answer to your final questions, yes, it is attractive enough to make me switch from my current smartphone (Android). Buying myself out of my contract early so I can get this on launch day…thankfully, Orange let me recycle my current phone to them and it’s worth more than my contract so free phone!!

    I’ve been waiting for quite some time for a Windows Phone good enough to tempt me away early and this is definitely it for me.

  • Random commentator

    imo, this is nothing compared to Mitsubishi Pajero, in spanish (if I remember correctly) it means masturbating male person… so yea, in comparison Lumia is OK, considering the word isn’t even used anymore and by anyone.

  • Anonymous

    Actually I understood “lumia” means prostitute in a very specific dialect of Spanish, where there is a strong “gypsy” influence.  There are so many slang terms used within official languages around the world, it’s conceivable that this was missed. It’s also conceivable that management recognized this very limited exposure and chose to proceed after balancing all arguments.

  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/ SEO Services

    This is great observation from you Stefan! It is looks unlikely mistake created by Nokia. But I don’t think it will create bigger problems in Spain for Nokia.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah….i agree…

  • http://twitter.com/carlos_olivera Carlos Olivera

    Lumia is not a common term in Spanish, in any region, is a antique dictionary only term, so, is ok.

    “Pajero” (Mitsubishi) that was a real mistake ;)

  • http://twitter.com/juancarlosrruiz Juan Carlos

    Hi Stefan Constantinescu, im native spanish and LUMIA doesnt means nothing in correct spanish, and also is not a slang word
    Thanks

    • Gjsdk

      Actually it does, though definitely it’s not the most used word to say ‘prostitute’ and many people have never heard it. You can check the RAE dictionary to verify that.

      Despite ‘lumia’ isn’t a very common word, the shortened form ‘lumi’ is widely used in slang, and well-known by everybody, at least where I live.

  • Anonymous

    nokia wp 7.5 phones are the best phones on the market right now it outsells bada and android even before launching it 
    Jag fick en Lumia800 av min pappa den är så grym och så snabb spöar alla android telefoner även ics 4.0 bästa som har hänt marknaden

  • Anonymous

    nokia wp 7.5 phones are the best phones on the market right now it outsells bada and android even before launching it 
    Jag fick en Lumia800 av min pappa den är så grym och så snabb spöar alla android telefoner även ics 4.0 bästa som har hänt marknaden

  • Anonymous

    nokia wp 7.5 phones are the best phones on the market right now it outsells bada and android even before launching it 
    Jag fick en Lumia800 av min pappa den är så grym och så snabb spöar alla android telefoner även ics 4.0 bästa som har hänt marknaden

  • Dwc61

    Ya had me there – right up to the point where you said “According to MSNBC” – then I knew there had to be a twist to the story – with a little research we find only a variation of the word in an antique gypsy dialect of Spanish – Nobody speaking Spanish uses the word.  msnbc, they too are outdated.

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