HELSINKI (Reuters) - To spearhead its push into Internet services, Nokia put users in charge when it opened in 2007 the networking site Mosh, which lets people post anything they want.
Less than two years later the world's top cellphone maker has decided to put an end to "people power", killing a site that attracted a wide audience around the globe, unlike most of Nokia's new fledgling services.
Mosh (mosh.nokia.com/) is a simple website customized for access from any feature phone or smartphone, but it can also be used from a personal computer.
It has been compared by users to the origins of the Internet, where people can access content and share it with others for free.
"We don't know where it exactly goes and we are not entirely in control," one of the founders of the site, George Linardos, told Reuters shortly after it was opened.
There is no official date for closing Mosh, but Nokia is expected to launch its Ovi store in May, merging its software Download! store with Mosh and widget service WidSets.
Like the Internet, Mosh attracted loads of pornographic content, and it also stoked tension between Nokia and record labels, with whom Nokia is in close cooperation for its music offerings.
Mosh has so far reached 137 million downloads. The takeup has been slower than Apple Inc's App Store, but there has been no marketing machine pushing Mosh.
"It was never going to last for ever, I'm surprised that it lasted this long," says artist Derrick Welsh, who goes by the name "moshing" on the site.
Welsh said he could not use Mosh from a public computer room of an art gallery in Newcastle, England, due to its explicit content.
Nokia is the first handset maker to move strongly into content space with services like its music store, gaming service N-gage and its upcoming online Ovi media and application store -- which will compete head-to-head against Apple's App Store.
The Apple store has proved the market for software supermarkets in the mobile world, with more than 500 million applications downloaded in only half a year.
David MacQueen from Strategy Analytics said Nokia has been able to learn a lot from Mosh -- how to run an open store, how to get developers products quickly to the market and how user recommendations should work.
"Mosh will die, but I would contend that in many ways the new Ovi Store is the child of Mosh rather than the child of Download," MacQueen said.
Nokia has not unveiled user numbers for its other new services, which are being slowly rolled out in various parts of the world.
The new Ovi Store is the official reason for closing Mosh, as the company is merging smaller services into one and starting to charge for their use.
"As a content provider, revenue from the downloads would be welcomed," said Welsh, who is investigating ways to expand messaging on phones from text to drawing.
"My wife likes what I'm up to, but she does want all this research to actually generate some cash one day," he said.
But gone will be the freedom of posting anything -- Nokia says it will screen all content before it is added to the Ovi store.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)