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June 25, 2009

Nokia Life Tools – initial reactions to launch in India

MUMBAI, India – Earlier this month we were stoked that one of our favourite Nokia services, Nokia Life Tools, officially touched down in India. Following its successful pilot scheme in Maharashtra, Life Tools has now officially launched via the Nokia 2323 classic and Nokia 2330 classic devices, and will be later become available on other Nokia devices and extend its reach to many more rural areas in India.

If you’re new to Nokia Life Tools, the concept is to deliver valuable and up-to-date information on the core topics of agriculture and education, providing rural communities without access to the internet, with timely information via SMS at a low cost. Perhaps the best example of this in practice is the agriculture tool that has been designed to deliver farmers with precise commodity prices on from a network of 291 local mandis (marketyards), meaning farmers don’t need to travel often long distances to the nearest town to arm themselves with these details, saving them time and money and enabling them to improve their quality of life.

We’ve gathered together a few initial reactions to the launch of Nokia Life Tools from a handful of Indian websites, so read on to see what others are saying, plus if you find any other reactions or want to voice your opinions, share them here as we’re keen to hear your thoughts.

Amit Sharma at, India’s first and biggest online business magazine, touched on the ‘information gaps’ that often exist in emerging markets and had this to say:

“Taking its rural thrust forward, Nokia today formally launched Life Tools… While mobile penetration is highest in urban centres in India, the small town and rural population too has become the focus of mobile service providers. With distant markets and uncertain weather conditions, mobile services are aiming to bridge these information gaps.”

Indian news site Khabrein, is extremely positive about the prospect, saying…

“It is sure to help farmers and other sections of the society. The initial test phase was a resounding success in Maharashtra and in other places too it is going to be similarly successful.”

One issue raised by WATBlog was the fact that it doesn’t cater for the illiterate, as the information is not spoken to the user. We’ll see if we can find out more about this, but in the meantime here’s their point:

“What Life tools lack is they are not voice driven and thus will need customer to be able to read and write apart from the learning cycle it’d need to use the tools per se.”

From a Nokia perspective, on the launch of Life Tools, Mr. D Shivakumar, Managing Director at Nokia India had this to say:

“Nokia Life Tools was a result of the entire ecosystem coming together and is ideally placed to usher in an information revolution impacting the daily lives of people… We believe this is the beginning of a historical journey that will take mobility to grassroots and make a positive difference to the lives of people in the areas that are crucial to them.”

As for the cost of Nokia Life tools. Here’s the breakdown for the agriculture and education services:

The Nokia Life Tools Agriculture service offers a choice of 2 plans. The basic plan, available across India at Rs 30/month, provides daily weather updates and relevant agriculture-related news, advice and tips. The premium plan, at Rs 60/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.

The Nokia Life Tools Education service, available throughout India, offers three components: Learn English, with basic, intermediate and advanced levels; Exam preparation, which offers students tips and advice for ICSE, CBSE and State Board-level exams mapped to the relevant curriculum; and General Knowledge, which gives subscribers useful information about the world around them. Each of the Education services will be offered at Rs 30/month.

As always, please share your opinions in the comments section below.