Nokia urges developers to focus on poor nations

The Nokia booth at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mobile devices have become a necessity for upward mobility. (GETTY IMAGES)

Nokia Chief Executive Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo praised the mobile phone yesterday as a history-changing tool and challenged developers to create programs for poor countries.

"These little devices have done more to improve people's lives than perhaps any technology in history," the head of the Finnish mobile phone giant said in a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He said cheap mobile phones had done much to improve the lives of people in developing nations.

"Here is the Nokia 1616, nothing to get too excited about. [But] it includes a built-in flashlight, a dust resistant keypad, an FM radio, a speaking alarm clock. Farmers in India and Indonesia can use it to get the latest information on crops," said Kallasvuo. "The mobile device has become a necessity for upward mobility. For the majority of the world's people, their first and only access to the internet will be through a mobile device – not a PC. And this access is spreading very, very fast."

Kallasvuo said there were 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions among a global population of 6.8 billion people.

"We are near the day where we can talk about the whole connected world," he said. He also announced that Nokia was putting $1 million (Dh3.67m) behind the first Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge to encourage developers to design mobile products or services that raise the standard of living in poor nations.

"We want you to come up with new and innovative ways to help people," Kallasvuo said. "We've seen what the tech community can do when it focuses on problems that are also opportunities. We want to channel that energy toward improving lives in the developing world."

The company said the Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge is not limited to software or hardware that uses its devices or software platforms. The $1m will be invested in the organisation with the best idea with the winner announced in June.

 

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