Finnish mobile phone giants Nokia are claiming to have organized the biggest 2006 New Year’s Eve celebration in the world, with more than 2 million people in 5 locations joined by 150 million television and Internet viewers. Fittingly enough, Nokia was delivering on its promise to connect the world through five spectacular events that combined to make this the most technologically advanced New Year yet.
Five capital cities, which could also be said to be party capitals of the world, played their part in the celebrations: Hong Kong, Mumbai, Berlin, Rio and New York in that order. Things kicked off at Hong Kong's Ocean Terminal when Atomic Kitten played their first international gig since officially splitting in 2004, including such hits as Whole Again and The Tide Is High. Local mobile operators ensured that despite the challenges created by the recent earthquake in Taiwan, Hong Kong music fans could stream the live concert footage to their cellphones. Going west, Mumbai was next on the party list with another star-studded concert taking place at the Andheri Stadium and featuring Nelly Furtado as well as Indian music maestro A.R. Rahman with Bollywood legends Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapoor and Koena Mitra. Furtado wooed the crowd by singing two Hindi ballads, Kabhi Kabhi and Yeh Sama, alongside her usual repertoire. Rahman, the "Mozart from Madras", performed his mega-hit Humma Humma as the bells rang out at midnight.
Next up was the biggest individual party of the five last night, at Berlin's Brandenburg where some 1.2 million party-goers turned up to see the Scissor Sisters perform I Don't Feel Like Dancin' and Comfortably Numb during an inspiring ninety-minute leading up to a 10 minute fireworks display to see the new year in before the Sugababes took to the stage. The rain could not prevent a million Brazilians from partying in Rio, where a nine hour concert on Ipanema Beach included performances by Black Eyed Peas and Sergio Mendes who was making his first live performance in the country for 28 years. Finally, it was the turn of New York where KT Tunstall, Ludacris and Rihanna appeared in a production of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2007.
If you weren’t there, or didn’t catch the fun last night online, you can get on-demand performances from all the above at the Nokia New Years Eve website.
Oh, and the technology link to all this? Well Nokia, as you might expect, managed to make this a very mobile New Year celebration. As well as there being an opportunity to send in text messages wishing friends and family a happy new year, which were displayed on huge screens around each stage at each event, including more than one or two marriage proposals it has to be said, there were also specially erected Bluetooth ‘beam-zones’ to enable party goers to receive a host of specially commissioned, and totally free, ringtones, wallpapers, gig guides and other content.
For once, a marketing message managed to gel with reality and, with the help of Live Aid and Live 8 promoter Harvey Goldsmith, create a celebration that really was ‘connecting people.’
Is this the future for New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world, leveraging the power of television, the internet, live events and the world's most exciting music artists to get people talking, sharing and celebrating on one incredible night? Nokia certainly think so, and I certainly hope so. It sure beats listening to a man in a kilt blow his bagpipes whilst a bunch of drunken relatives sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ very badly indeed...