The Business Standard (Nokia focuses on rural markets)
Sapna Agarwal / Pune July 16, 2007The rural markets account for around 5 per cent of the national GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) handset sales. The figure is expected to rise to 25-30 per cent, adding around 100 million new cellular subscribers by 2009, according to a recent study by LIRNEasia and AC Nielson.
The statistics are significant for vendors such as Nokia, LG and Motorola, who are engaged in major brand-building initiatives across villages through ‘touch-and-feel’ experiences. Under the initiatives, the handset firms will introduce low-priced entry-level handsets and make them available in mandis, haats and rural retail chains. Nokia, for instance, has already announced localisation measures, which include developing strong regional content capabilities. Besides, it is also launching a new range of Nokia 1200 series priced between Rs 1,600 and Rs 5,000. The range will sport features suh as FM radio, General Packet Radio Service or GPRS (to surf the internet), camera, shared phone books and cost-tracker – a new feature, which will tell the user how much talk time is available and the cost per call.A recent Nokia study revealed that mobile phones were means to overcome infrastructure hurdles. The report also noted that prospective rural subscribers were reasonably heavy users, making an average of 40 calls a month. “Mobiles have the potential to increase a family’s savings by reducing the rural consumers’ unnecessary travel expenses for procurement of raw materials. Besides, farmers are using the phone to get prevalent market rates for farm produce through voice and SMSes and even GPRS if available,” said Devender Kishore, director, marketing, Nokia.
The survey further said, “With limited sources of getting news and entertainment coupled with hectic work schedules, mobile phones with features such as FM radio and GPRS, are a necessity in the rural areas.”
Following the survey, Nokia has announced a tie-up with Malayala Manoroma and launched a portal, where all the Nokia GPRS-enabled handsets users in Kerala will be able to get national and international news in their native language. “We are in the process of tying up with 10 other vernacular content providers in Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada in association with leading media houses across India,” said Devender Kishore.