Nokia started their keynote with slides displaying statistical analysis about mobile phones. The first couple of slides set the precedent that the talk will be all about mobile phone penetration in places like Africa & India. Quotes from the Business Week, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal followed. Some of them:
There are four times as many mobile subscribers in the world as there are installed PCs.
– Financial Times
The appearance of mobile phones in the hands of average Africans is already accelerating the growth of grassroots economics.
– Business Week
India has a billion people and is primarily a rural country if you get a dollar a month from 200 million farmers, that’s a good business.
– Fast Company
What followed these slides was a set of slides showing Nokia’s sales numbers. The numbers are staggering:
- 13 Nokia devices made and sold per second
- 1.2 Billion Nokia phones in use
- 220 countries and territories covered by Nokia
And the slide that caught my attention stated that in 92 seconds during the keynote:
- 806 Nokia devices were made and sold
- 15,333,334 phone calls were made using Nokia phones
- 3,373,600 text messages were sent using Nokia phones
These are phenomenal numbers. And these slides pretty much sum up what Nokia is focusing on. The slides Nokia showed were of rural India & Africa, farmers and small business owners in remote locations using Nokia’s handsets. It was as if Nokia was driving three key point:
- We sell a lot of phones.
- A huge chunk of our customers are from the rural parts of the world.
- These farmers and small businesses in rural areas of Africa & India are our core focus.
There were no new phones announced, no talk about their Maemo platform, absolutely no mention of their 3G notebook not even in passing. The whole talk centered around selling more phones to below-poverty line users.
A few interesting announcements that were made:
- Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge a competition targeted towards emerging markets where an application that encourages upward mobility will get an investment of $1 million.
- Sesame Street has partnered with Nokia Developer Forum’s Calling All Innovators competition that calls on developers to build locally relevant applications. More details can be found on the official website CallingAllInnovators.com
- Nokia Money a service that will enable billions of people access to banks using their cell phones.
The essence of the keynote was that Nokia’s phones cater to the very lowest segment of the market and these customers make use of cell phones for not just making calls but for banking, getting weather information, and even learning. Despite the lack of existing technological infrastructure in markets like India and Africa that deprive users of facilities like 3G, value added services and information can be brought to people on their handsets by something as basic as SMS which is what Nokia is focusing on. Selling more cheap phones cheap phones in rural markets to retain global market share.