Nokia poised to help farmers to expand its rural base

Nokia is about to launch a set of “Life Tools” to be embedded in its mobile phones in an effort to expand its base into rural India. These Life Tools cater to the needs of the rural community with information on three different sectors namely Agriculture, Education, Entertainment. On agriculture, the Life Tool is likely to offer updated information on weather and market prices for the farmers produce on the mobile phone in the farmers native language.

As the old proverb goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Nokia’s datasheet on Life Tools provides an easy-to-understand picture. Evidently, this tool is developed not just to penetrate into rural India, but rather to the “rural world”.

If my everyday observation is any testimony, Nokia seems to have a wide user base at the lower economic sections of India, and this tool can be an excellent vehicle for informational empowerment of the rural Indian community. However, given that the rural buy is likely not going to buy these phones off a Nokia Priority Showroom, how Nokia is going to market this tool so that the buyer buys a low cost Nokia phone for its Life Tools rather than its ruggedness, ease of use or longer life would be an interesting point to observe. This may also be the crucial factor that may determine the tool’s success.

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2008 Manthan Award Winners – ICT and Development

Prerna announced the acceptance of nominations for the 2008 Manthan Awards back in March, and Livemint.com now provides highlights of the innovative winners. The full list of winners can be found here.

On first glance, I was amazed by the sheer number of categories (there are 13) and the diversity of tech products out there. Here are a few personal favorites, but I encourage you to look through the list to get the full view:

  • Wall newspaper – broadcast sheet pasted on the walls of milk cooperatives and Panchayat buildings in 40,000 villages, targeting the rural and low literate
  • Safal National Exchange of India Limited (SNX) – pursuing a One India One Market vision, creating an opportunity for small farmers to gain access to national markets through negotiating prices in a transparent way that eliminates as many intermediaries as possible
  • Lipikaar – an e-localization method that allows typing in 16 different languages using a normal keyboard, making it extremely user-friendly for non-English speakers
  • Learn with Fun – making maths an enjoyable subject through satelitte communications in a vernacular language, to reach out to rural areas where drop out rates are high

There are seemingly endless ways to marry technology and development, and these winners provide just a taste of the current landscape.

Reliance Rural Mobile Application Contest 2007 – 08 Deadline April 30th

From now own, competitions like these will be included in a once a week post on Thursdays that compile any opportunities relevant to our readers in an easy to find post. However, given that the Reliance Rural Mobile Application Contest’s deadline will have passed before we had the opportunity to post on it, we wanted to inform you all of it today. Here are the details from Let Me Know, and go here for the contest’s website.

For Whom:
Software Professionals, Self- employed Professionals,Students,Companies,Content vendors/ aggregators

Reliance Communications rated among the Asia’s 6 Topmost Valuable Telecom Companies, is India’s foremost truly integrated telecommunications service provider with over 35 million subscribers . The company has established a pan-India, next generation, integrated (wireless and wireline), convergent (voice, data and video) digital network that is capable of supporting best-of-class services spanning the entire Infocomm value chain.

The focus of the Mobile Application Contest 2007 – 08 will be on developing applications that cater to the rural customers. The applications could be in any of the following areas:

Transportation
M- Commerce
Information
Health,Education
Governance
Location Based Services

Applications can be developed for both CDMA and GSM technologies.

Let Me Know also notes that the deadline on the website does not accurately reflect the actual deadline.