Nokia life tools and the power of text message!

Information is wealth!

Nokia is planning to expand its popular Ovi Life Tools service to include fisheries and poultry in India. It is in talks with various state and central departments to extend the service. Ovi Life Tools is also in talks with Spices and rubber board of Kerala. The service currently provides information to subscribers on Agriculture, education and entertainment in 10 states across India.

Ever since Ovi Life Tools was launched in India in June 2009, more than 5 million users (0.71% of total subscribers in India) subscribed to it. The service was initially launched in India and is now expanded to Indonesia, China and most recently to Nigeria. It now has 6.3 million subscribers in these countries. As per Nokia’s Q3 2010 earnings, Services contributed 159 million euros which is a 7% increase over last year. Ovi Life Tools is a part of the services which Nokia offers. Not only Nokia is enriching the daily lives of millions of farmers, it is making money from it.

Late Mr. Prahlad is right. There is fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.

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Another similar service from Reuters called as Reuters Market Light (RML) empowers farmers with information. It provides weather, crop and commodity prices to more than 250,000 farmers in 13 Indian states. A family which spends Rs. 800  per year on RML service has made additional profit of 1 lakh that year. Not a bad investment. RML doesn’t charge Rs. 800 for sending pretty texts. Tremendous efforts go behind the scenes to come up with the 160 characters flashing on the farmers mobile phone.

RML’s content-spread is mind-boggling. It covers 250 crops; 1,000 markets and 3,000 weather locations. So is the size of operations: 300 people in 13 states source information at granular levels. Another 13 editors source information from global markets and keep a tab on the global commodity trends, activities at the Chicago Board of Trade, and dozens of advisories issued by governments worldwide. (source)

All of this is possible through a senile tool called text message. Yes the same old text message which is 160 character in length and was first started on December 3, 1992. While the urban India might be using their mobiles to track twitter streams of Shah Rukh Khan and #BurkhaGate, rural India and almost half the world uses it for a fully different purpose. Information and interaction with the outside world. 

There are 5 billion mobile phones across the world and there is one single feature which is available on every phone. Not Java, not Symbian, not Android and definitely not Apple’s iOS. It is the text message. A text message can reach any working mobile phone in the world. For some it could mean a joke from a friend, for some it could be a ‘reached safely’ message and for some it could be the most critical information on which their livelihood depends.

Watch the video of how Nokia Life Tools is being used :

All these tools are targeting the rural population who can read. What happens to people who can’t read and yet need the same information? Education looks like a viable answer. But technology can answer that today. Yet another fortune is waiting in voice based services.

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