As Nokia moves ahead with its new smartphone strategy with Microsoft, the handset maker also plans to continue investing in its low-end handsets to bring Internet connectivity to emerging markets, CEO Stephen Elop said Wednesday.
“Around 80% of the world population lives within range of a cellular signal, but only 20% are connected to the Internet,” he said in his keynote session at the Mobile World Congress. “Our strategy is to connect the unconnected and bring the next billion online, because we can go beyond voice and SMS on these devices.”
Elop said Nokia would do that in part by investing in its low-end Series 30 and Series 40 handset portfolio, adding new features including dual SIM slots and QWERTY keyboards.
Nokia also plans to drive third-party innovation by partnering with local developers and releasing new SDKs that can be used to create local apps that can be monetized.
Elop said Nokia will also expand services such as Nokia Money and Life Tools into emerging markets, as well as social networking, IM and email – “things that we take for granted but for them, it’s new,” Elop said.
“For the last four months I’ve traveled all over the world to talk to partners and customers, and the impact of mobile devices in the remote parts of the world is remarkable,” Elop said, highlighting examples such as mobile maps of fresh water sources in Kenya, agricultural market updates for farmers, and education services for girls in Tanzania and the Philippines.
“This is the purpose of Nokia,” he said. “We have the reach, the experience and the strategy.”