Nokia reaches out to farmers with limited internet access

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am

The world's leading mobile phone maker, Nokia, has launched a message-based information service tailored for Chinese farmers who have limited access to the internet.

The service, called Ovi Life Tools, is the latest move by the Finland-based company that bundles handsets and services. It introduced mapping, navigation, e-mail and music to consumers earlier this year. The service is designed to provide poorly served people with information ranging from health care to agriculture, education and entertainment.

People in rural areas will be able to subscribe to the service for 5 to 8 yuan per month in a package available for two models of low-end handsets. It will also be available for more handsets in future.

'While China's urbanisation is growing rapidly, we believe there is a compelling need to provide mobile solutions in emerging markets, bringing affordable, quality and locally relevant information direct to the consumer,' said Chris Leong, senior vice-president for Greater China, Korea and Japan.

Nokia believes there is a huge market for the new service.

Phil Kemp, vice-president for services in Greater China, said it was an 'ambitious' move given the potential client base and the mainland's policy of developing rural areas.

There are nearly 732 million rural residents on the mainland, about 55 per cent of the population. The government has consistently made rural issues a top priority and Beijing tried to boost economic growth amid the financial crisis by encouraging manufacturers to sell cars, household appliances and handsets to farmers.

Jawahar Kanjilal, global head of Nokia Life Tools, said the service had been successfully launched in India and Indonesia last year, and the number of users had reached more than 1.5 million by the end of last month.

The service supplies farmers with information about the weather, health care, market prices for produce and provides help in learning English.