LAS VEGAS—Nokia President and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo was asked by the Consumer Electronics Association to speak to the topic of developing markets, a segment of the wireless industry that is particularly dear to the Finnish OEM’s heart. He took the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater this morning.
“What I want to do is take you to a real world, a world where most of the world’s inhabitants live,” Kallasvuo said, referring to the continent of Africa.
Kallasvuo gave the audience a rundown on the continuing importance of its staple product, the simple bar phone. While not so impressive to the Western world, these phones are seen as a tool of survival for a good portion of the 4.6 billion mobile subscribers around the planet. He likened the purchase of a simple mobile bar phone for those in third-world countries to the purchase of an automobile for an affluent family in a developed country.
“We approach all our markets from the point of view that you can do good business while also doing good,” he said, prefacing what would be a talk devoted to the idea of improving lives through technology.
“For years, Nokia has had teams working around the world to develop understanding of a diverse range of cultures and people,” he said.
Kallasvuo showcased a program for which it has commissioned Lonely Planet, the travel journalism outlet, to investigate the effect of mobile communications on the planet. The project looks at the ways that cellular technology has affected the lives of everyone, including rural farmers in India’s urban-based textile industry. The results of the project can be seen at www.theprogressproject.com.
Because of the lack of 3G service in some developing markets, Kallasvuo said that SMS technology can be modified in order to provide such services as navigation using the location of cell towers. He also touched on the importance of payment and banking services for emerging markets.
“While there are nearly 4.6 billion (subscribers), there are only 1.6 billion bank accounts, which means much of the world still has no access to basic financial services,” he said by way of explaining Nokia Money, a global banking and payment service that can be done on its most basic phones. The service involves cooperation between carriers, regulators, merchants, bankers and OEMs from all over the world.
To conclude his keynote, Kallasvuo announced the Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge. The challenge is extended for anyone who has a software or hardware solution that is intended to improve the lives of those who live in an area where the daily wage is less than $5.
“The winner will receive a $1 million investment from Nokia, aimed at creating a strong micro business that will improve others’ lives,” he said.