Designed for the emerging markets, Nokia Life Tools is a range of agriculture, education, and entertainment services for consumers. In India, the service will be rolled out first in Maharashtra in association with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB).
Today (June 12), Nokia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MSAMB. The latter will provide information in the areas of commodity prices from its network of 291 local mandis (marketyards).
The Nokia Life Tools solution will be available on the newly launched Nokia 2323 classic and Nokia 2330 classic devices, and will be later expanded to other Nokia devices, says the company.
While Nokia is not alone in this type of business, a number of other companies have introduced their services targeting commoners including farmers.
In September last year, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global tech outsourcing organization in India, announced that The Wall Street Journal, a leading business publication, has selected TCS’s mKrishi service as the winner of its 2008 Technology Innovation Award in the wireless technology category. TCS’s mobile-based crop-advisory service, mKrishi, is claimed to be an approach to helping rural farmers in India.
The other such attempts include Simputer, NIC’s Agmarknet, Reuters Market Light, and so on. However, the actual benefit to poor farmers is not yet known. Moreover, since India is primarily a voice-only market, it’ll be difficult for mobile players to sell mobile data services including education, entertainment, and so on to Indian consumers.
But Nokia’s desperation is justified. In the dwindling mobile market where brand differentiation has lost its meaning and dozens of mobile makers are frequently launching their devices like commodities, Nokia is struggling to find buyers. Recently, the company also informed that its net sales have fallen down 27% year-on-year (YoY) at EUR 9.3 billion for the first quarter of 2009. Declaring its results in April, Nokia revealed that its mobile device volumes of 93.2 million units have suffered a 19% YoY decline against an industry drop of 14%. (Read: Nokia’s Missed Call – Net Sales Down 27% in Q1)
With this worrisome record, obviously the company will run from pillar to post to sell its phones. Now, it’s focusing on India with the belief that highly populated countries like India hold good potential for its phones. And it’s trying to sell them under the garb of gimmicks like Life Tools, etc.
The Nokia Life Tools Agriculture service offers consumers a choice of 2 plans. The basic plan, available across India at Rs. 30 per month, provides daily weather updates and relevant agriculture-related news, advice, and tips.
The premium plan, at Rs. 60 per month, will be available in 10 states, including Maharashtra, and provides the closest market prices for three crops chosen by the subscriber, as well as weather, news, advice, and tips. (US $1 = Rs. 50 approximately)
Nokia is collaborating with Reuters Market Light (RML), which was the exclusive provider for agriculture services in the pilot run.
Nokia Life Tools Education services aim to provide education and career services, including English language learning, general knowledge, exam preparations and results, and career information and tips. And Nokia Life Tools Entertainment services include astrology, news on current affairs, sports, politics, jokes, and downloadable ringtones.