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Kallasvuo Says Cellphones Help Developing World

“Mobile communications have played a key role in bringing hope and higher
living standards to billions of people [in developing countries, and the trend] “promises to accelerate in the coming decade as the capabilities of smartphones
spread across the globe,” Nokia CEO
Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said in his International CES keynote yesterday.

Speaking as part
of CES’s third annual Technology In Emerging Countries program, Kallasvuo also
pointed out that cellphones are not only a source of good business but a force
for good. In the developing world, Nokia approaches business “from the point of
view that you can do good business, and do good at the same time,” he told a
packed audience.

In developing
countries, the cellphone “has done more to improve people’s lives than perhaps
any technology in history,” he said.

Nokia has done its
part by driving down the cost of basic handsets through its global scale and
efficiencies so that phones are affordable to the world’s poor populations,
although many people still must pool their money to jointly buy and share a
single phone, he said.

In these
countries, Nokia provides Nokia Tools applications that farmers in India
and Indonesia
use to get pesticide advice and the latest information on crop prices and

Nokia also
provides basic-phone apps that help people learn a second language, use prepaid
minutes as a type of currency to send to relatives in need of cash, and cut
through India’s
notorious bureaucracy to streamline the ordering process between textile
retailers and suppliers, he said.

Nokia developed
these applications to deliver needed services in countries where data networks
are unavailable and where consumers can’t afford smartphones, he said. Because
many consumers can’t afford GPS-equipped
phones, he added, Nokia developed an SMS-based service that uses cell-tower-location
technology to create an online store of locally available products and

In the first half
of this year, Nokia will commercially launch an online banking service that
people can use to pay bills and transfer money. Although there are 4.6 billion
cellular subscriptions in a world with 6.8 billion people, there are only 1.6
billion bank accounts, he noted.

Kallasvuo used his
bully pulpit to urge app developers and others to put more emphasis on creating
products and services for the developing world. Nokia Life Tools costs users
only $1/month, but those revenues can be multiplied by billons, he pointed out.
“As this new frontier of upward mobility expands, it will open up countless
opportunities – not just for the mobile industry, but for a wide range of
businesses, content providers, software developers and entrepreneurs,” he said.

Putting his money
where his mouth is, Kallasvuo announced a venture challenge that will award the
winning company with a $1 million investment from Nokia for creating software,
hardware or a service that will improve people’s lives. Details are at

winner will be announced in June.