Tag Archives: Mobile Services

Nokia Life Tools launched across India

Here are the latest developments regarding Reuters Market Light and Nokia Life Tools. According to the press release below Nokia Life Tools is being launched across India.

June 12, 2009

Ecosystem involving key government bodies, operators & industry players to address consumers’ information gaps.

Mumbai, India – After a successful pilot in the state of Maharashtra, Nokia today announced the commercial launch of its pioneering Nokia Life Tools service in India. The service will be rolled out first in Maharashtra in association with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB). Designed specifically for the emerging markets, Nokia Life Tools is a range of Agriculture, Education and Entertainment services sharply addressing the information gaps of target consumers.

Today, Nokia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MSAMB. Under this MOU, MSAMB will provide expertise in the areas of commodity prices from their network of 291 local mandis (marketyards). MSAMB will also have the opportunity to deliver relevant news, alerts on schemes and other information directly to grassroots consumers.
Speaking at the occasion, Shri. Ashok Chavan, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra said, “We are happy that Maharashtra is the first state in India to go live with the Nokia Life Tools services in association with the state marketing board. Empowering our people with the right tools and facilities is a top priority for the State Government. I would like to congratulate Nokia for developing a unique and innovative service that has tremendous potential to improve lives and the livelihood of farmers and sub-urban consumers in Maharashtra.”
Shri Harshavardhan Patil, Hon’ble Minister for Co-operation, Marketing, Cultural Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs said, “It has been the Maharashtra state government’s endeavour to provide vital agri information tools for a progressive and an empowered farmer community. Nokia Life Tools is tailormade to positively impact farmers across the state. This MOU further strengthens MSAMB’s mandate to get the information directly to the farmers.”
Mr. D Shivakumar, Managing Director, Nokia India said, “Nokia Life Tools was a result of the entire ecosystem coming together and is ideally placed to usher in an information revolution impacting the daily lives of people. We extend our sincere thanks to MSAMB and our key partners for believing in and supporting our vision of ’empowering people and connecting them to the things that matter’. We believe this is the beginning of a historical journey that will take mobility to grassroots and make a positive difference to the lives of people in the areas that are crucial to them.”
The complete Nokia Life Tools solution will be available on the newly launched Nokia 2323 classic and Nokia 2330 classic devices, and will be later expanded to other Nokia devices.
Nokia Life Tools Partner Ecosystem and Services
Designed with deep insights gathered from target users, Nokia has collaborated with multiple partners across the Indian Government and private enterprises to bring together a rich ecosystem to deliver localised & personalised information directly to consumers’ Life Tools-enabled mobile devices.
Nokia Life Tools has a range of 3 primary services – Agriculture Services, Education Services and Entertainment Services
Nokia Life Tools Agriculture services:
The Nokia Life Tools Agriculture service offers consumers a choice of 2 plans. The basic plan, available across India at Rs 30/month, provides daily weather updates and relevant agriculture-related news, advice and tips. The premium plan, at Rs 60/month, will be available in 10 states, including Maharashtra, and provides the closest market prices for three crops chosen by the subscriber, as well as weather, news, advice and tips.
Nokia is collaborating with Reuters Market Light (RML), which was the exclusive provider for agriculture services in the successful pilot. Syngenta, Madison Research, Skymet and many others also form this ecosystem.
Nokia Life Tools Education services:
The Nokia Life Tools Education service, available throughout India, offers three components: Learn English, with basic, intermediate and advanced levels; Exam preparation, which offers students tips and advice for ICSE, CBSE and State Board-level exams mapped to the relevant curriculum; and General Knowledge, which gives subscribers useful information about the world around them. Each of the Education services will be offered at Rs 30/month. Information and content from multiple local and international companies will be aggregated and delivered to Nokia Life Tools by EnableM.
Nokia Life Tools Entertainment services:
The Nokia Life Tools Entertainment service at launch will include Astrology, News, Jokes, Cricket and ringtones, offered at existing market prices. The content is aggregated and brought to Life Tools by OnMobile.
Nokia Life Tools is hosted by OnMobile in India.
Jawahar Kanjilal, Nokia’s Global Head of Emerging Markets Services, said, “As mobile coverage increases to cover the millions of unconnected, Nokia – in India and in other emerging markets around the world – will work together with mobile operators, multiple government and private enterprises, and non-government organizations to empower millions by connecting them to better opportunities that have a positive impact on their daily lives.”
Nokia Life Tools was piloted in Maharashtra earlier this year before its commercial roll-out this month. The feedback from actual subscribers during the pilot that was concluded in April 2009 revealed that the service had a wide appeal, and connected with subscribers at both emotional and rational levels. On one hand, the service brought livelihood gains through relevant information such as market rates for farmers’ produce, greater awareness on market conditions, tips on weather, news, crop advisory, Learn English and General Knowledge. On the other hand, it enabled consumers to fill their information gaps by being better informed, save time and money, and improve their confidence and social standing.
Nokia Life Tools service will be expanded to select countries across Asia and Africa later in 2009 and beyond.
About Nokia Life Tools
Nokia Life Tools is a range of innovative Agriculture information and Education services targeted at non-urban consumers. Under the Nokia Life Tool Services, consumers can choose various types of services/information that they wish to receive. Services available are as follows.
– Nokia Life Tools Agriculture services aim to plug the information gaps and needs of farmers via their mobile devices, by providing information on seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, market prices, and weather (temperature, rainfall, wind conditions)
– Nokia Life Tools Education services aim to provide education and career services, including English language learning, General Knowledge, Exam preparations and results, and career information and tips
– Nokia Life Tools Entertainment services also has fun features for subscribers, including Astrology, News on current affairs, sports, politics and other matters, Jokes and downloadable ringtones
Nokia Life Tools services use an icon-based, graphically rich user interface that comes complete with tables and which can even display information simultaneously in two languages. Behind this rich interface, SMS is used to deliver the critical information to ensure that this service works wherever a mobile phone works, without the hassles of additional settings or the need for GPRS coverage.

via Nokia – ShowPressRelease.

Mobile Money by M-Pesa: a need or a luxury?

In a recent post I noted the news about Safaricom’s profitability in the last year and exchanged some thoughts about the services, fair pricing and values provided by African mobile operators with Steve Song.

Eariler this week I came across the Round. The world. Connected. project of the Nokia Siemens Networks. In its Episode 2 finds Adrian Simpson visits Ethiopia and Kenya. Among the bonus features are an interview with Mr. Michael Joseph, CEO of Safaricom, interviews with users and providers of the M-Pesa service.

Mr. Michael Joseph introduces the needs and benefits of the M-Pesa service, emphasizing its value outside the main urban areas where banking infrastructure is rarely available. He recounts the origins of the M-Pesa service in 2006 within a microfinancing project and explains its current popularity. By saving users the hazards of carrying and transacting in cash M-Pesa allows its users greater degree of mobility and flexibility. Mr. Michael Joseph stresses that M-Pesa is a banking product. This complicates the service by imposing strict security requirements on the technology, five-year record keeping requirement, and customer rules.

Mr. Michael Joseph emphasises the importance of the distribution and support network for the M-Pesa service. He acknowledges that Safaricom’s ARPU is decreasing and explains Safaricom’s strategy to “lock-in” customers through the provision of a mobile banking service which can be perceived as a daily necessity. Furthermore, Safaricom counts 7500 franchises of M-Pesa stores where users of the service can receive personalised support and loyalty to Safaricom can develop as a result of the social capital exchanged in between the users and the representatives of the distribution network. Adrian Simpson gives faces to the M-Pesa distribution/ support network by interviewing an M-Pesa store owners.

In the video “The benefits of M-Pesa and mobile banking in Africa” Adrian Simpson shows documents used in the registration for use of the service and talks to an M-Pesa dealer who claims thousands of customers visiting his shop. The location seems fairly central and the customers appear “upmarket”. He mentions businesses and university students as his customers.

In “Interview with an M Pesa store owner in Africa” Adrian Simpson talks to Joseph, an M-Pesa agent working in somewhat more moderate surroundings. He emphasises customer service, technology assistance and personal attention as important considerations for keeping his customer base.

Towards the end of the interview with Mr. Michael Joseph the subject of regulation is brought up. Not surprisingly, Mr. Michael Josephs mentions that mobile operators in Africa are seen as “cash cows” and a reduced tax burden would help help their work. Still, I wonder how regulation can be used in order to provide mobile operators with the incentive to support, invest in and develop socially benefitial services. M-Pesa seems to facilitate the monetary transactions of socially excluded people and it appears to alleviate concerns related to security. As such, the service has required considerable investment in technology development and the set-up of a distribution network. With considerable set-up costs, the service has broken even only recently after subscribing 6 000 000 users in December 2008. Admittedly, Safaricom has invested in it with strategic self-interest, looking towards customer loyalty and “lock-in” opportunities. Still, I wonder how governments cound encourage mobile operators to behave in a similar way, rather than to follow more disruptive strategies. If we view mobile services like M-Pesa as social goods, rather than luxuries, how can regulation be used to have more of them?