Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told attendees at the International Consumer Electronics Show that the world’s developing economies are places of increasing opportunity and upward mobility, where wealth is being created at an incredible rate and business opportunities abound – in part due to the spread of mobile communications. Mobility has brought hope and higher living standards to billions of people.
“Mobile communications have played a big role in bringing hope and higher living standards to literally billions of people,” Kallasvuo said during a keynote speech Friday. “The trend promises to accelerate in the coming decade, as the power and capabilities of smartphones spread across the globe.”
Kallasvuo discussed how innovators, particularly software developers, can join Nokia in its efforts to be a force for good by helping to accelerate development in these growth markets. He announced the USD 1 million Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge – a $1 million USD investment from Nokia to encourage innovators and developers to come up with innovate ways to help people and promote upward mobility around the world.
“We’ve seen what the tech community can do when it focuses on problems that are also opportunities,”Kallasvuo said. “We want to channel that energy toward improving lives in the developing world.”
Kallasvuo noted that there are about 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions among the planet’s 6.8 billion people today. “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.”
“In China, every month more than 7 million people gain access to the Internet for the first time, and mostly on mobile devices,” he said. “This trend shows no signs of slowing. The mobile device has become a necessity for upward mobility.”
Kallasvuo announced that Ovi Mail, Nokia’s mobile email service that is designed for users whose first email access is via a mobile device, signed up more than 5 million accounts in its first year, exceeding the first-year user totals for Gmail,Yahoo Mail and Hotmail.
Kallasvuo spoke of the importance of understanding every market in which a company does business.
“Business people often tend to lump all of the growing countries outside the West into one category. They call them ‘developing countries,’ ‘emerging countries’ or ‘emerging markets.’ Each of these markets is uniquely different and complex. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work.”
Kallasvuo shared the CES stage with Jan Chipchase, whom he described as the “Indiana Jones of Nokia.” Chipchase travels the far corners of the world to help Nokia understand how people live and how mobile phones might help them to live better.
“People around the world have shown us that adversity leads to real innovation,” said Chipchase. “People in some of the world’s most remote and poorest countries have inspired us and amazed us. They know what they need and they find ways to make it happen.”
After Chipchase,Kallasvuo introduced the “Progress Project” and Frances Linzee Gordon, one of the Lonely Planet travel journalists who worked on it. For the Progress Project, Nokia invited Lonely Planet to investigate the benefits of mobility, giving complete editorial freedom to Lonely Planet’s writers. What resulted was a series of short videos that showed how lives are being improved by mobility.
“My first misconception about this project, was that Progress was merely about technology,” Linzee Gordon said. “In fact, it was really all about people. How people are using mobile devices to improve their health, wealth, business and education. My second misconception? Before this project, like a lot of people, I didn’t appreciate the potential for a global company to be a force for good.”