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MWC: Nokia looks to emerging markets for comeback

Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, switched focus away from the company’s smartphone activities to discuss opportunities in extending connectivity to the unconnected, stating that “80 percent of the world’s population today are in cellphone signal range, and yet only 20 percent of them are connected to the Internet. “We can change that, collectively,” he said at the World Mobile World Congress.
Speaking in a keynote address at Congress this week at the MWC, Elop highlighted the fact that developments in this area are beneficial both to the industry and the consumers involved. “For Nokia, it’s good for business. But I must tell you that for the last four months I have travelled all over the world to talk to partners and customers, and the impact of mobile devices in the remote parts of the world is remarkable.”

While the Nokia head noted that when it comes to bringing connectivity to new markets, “one of the most important connections is the first one,” he also stated that “we can go beyond just voice and SMS connections on mobile devices.” Operators and developers can create apps and services to deliver a range of functionality to subscribers, and extend internet access to new subscribers.

In order to drive growth in these emerging markets, Elop promised a “continuous enhancement and new investment” in the company’s mass-market Series 30 and Series 40 device portfolios, which play an “incredibly important role” in the Nokia portfolio – even if they are overshadowed in column inches by its smartphone strategy. Features set for wider penetration include dual SIM support, touch-and-type input, and QWERTY keypads, although  the need for an “aspiration” design was also trumpeted: “regardless of where you are on the economic pyramid, you want to feel great about what you carry in your pocket.”

Nokia is also set to make “a deliberate investment” to expand its services, including the already-announced Nokia Money and Nokia Life Tools. Its roadmap includes social networking, instant messaging and email solutions for low-tier users, and an extension of Nokia’s mapping offerings to Series 40 devices. Elop also said the company will “drive third-party innovation in this area, through global partnerships with local developers,” in order to deliver products targeting specific markets.

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