Nokia Plans to Connect Next Billion to Internet

Close on the heels of naming Stephen Elop as its future CEO, Nokia today (Sept. 15) unveiled a strategy to connect the “next billion” people to the Internet. The company wants to offer its low-cost mobile phones supported by Ovi services in the emerging markets.

Mary McDowell, Nokia’s executive VP for Mobile Phones, said the company is ideally placed to capture much of the projected growth in the global marketplace and that it intends to maintain its leadership in voice and data for the masses.

“More people will join the information age using a mobile phone than a PC,” McDowell said. “With approximately 80 percent of the world’s population in reach of a cell tower, it is the mobile phone that will offer the first PC-like experience for many of the next billion people who will come online.”

Following the recent launch of the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, Nokia unveiled its second touch and type phone: the Nokia C3 Touch and Type, which combines a touch screen and traditional phone keypad.

This Series 40 phone also features a full stainless steel chassis, 3G, WLAN, a 5 megapixel camera with flash, a music player, FM radio and it supports up to a 32GB memory card. 

The phone has fast access to messaging and email plus applications and games from the Ovi Store. Priced at approximately EUR 145, excluding taxes and subsidies, it is expected to be available in Q4 of this year.

Nokia says it is responding to higher demand on a number of fronts delivering to the needs of people in growth markets, including the integration of Ovi services.  In addition, it says, Nokia provides wide-scale business opportunities for third-party Series 40 developers.

The company data reveals that Ovi Mail has attracted more than 14 million email activations, the large majority of which are new users coming from emerging markets.

In the last six months alone, 60 percent of new Ovi Mail accounts are from Southeast Asia Pacific and Africa, and more than 77 percent of people in the Middle East and Africa are now signing-up for Ovi Mail on their Nokia mobile phone instead of a PC, the company says. 

In addition, it says, more than 80 percent of Ovi Mail consumers globally are accessing their mailboxes from their mobile device.

Through its recent acquisition of Novarra, Nokia brings new browser technology and the power of cloud services to Series 40, enabling more Internet users in emerging markets to get more out of what the Web has to offer. Ovi Browser is now in beta release.

According to the company, a hyper local approach to music services has seen Nokia become the single largest source of digital music revenue in markets including Brazil, Mexico and India, when Nokia digital billings for 2009 are compared against IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) estimates.

With music services live across 38 markets, Nokia claims it now offers the most globally scaled digital music footprint.

Nokia recently extended its reach launching a fully commercial Ovi Store in China.

Ovi Life Tools and Nokia Money are providing access to the Internet for education, entertainment, health, business improvement and self improvement, the company says.  

Ovi Life Tools is available in India, Indonesia and China, and now has more than 4.7 million users, according to the company. 

Nokia Money aims to offer consumers with a mobile phone access to basic financial services.  Together with YES BANK and Obopay, Nokia’s pilot in Pune, India, called Mobile Money Services by YES BANK, has moved to commercialization stage. 

The next step for an India-wide rollout is the city of Chandigarh.

Photo courtesy: Nokia

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Rakesh Raman