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LONDON, England – Day Two’s keynote address at Nokia World came from Mary McDowell, EVP Mobile Phones for Nokia. Amplifying one of the big themes of the show – the increasing relevance of ‘Connecting People’, McDowell described the ways in which the company is allowing more people to connect, innovate and prosper than ever before. Find out how this is happening after the break.

Not very long ago, McDowell reflected, the idea of poorer regions being supplied with a $100 computer appeared to be the great hope for bringing connectivity, education, news and entertainment to these areas. The rapid growth of mobile communications has trumped those plans somewhat: it now seems considerably more likely that hundreds of thousands of people across the world will actually be connecting using mobile devices that cost a lot less than $100. This is already happening, of course, and many of these areas are now blossoming thanks to improved communications possibilities.

Nokia believes that it is possible to do good business and be good. It is the only company that makes phones for every budget in every region and every market segment. McDowell referenced the example of a woman who won Nokia’s Don’t Stop Dreaming Competition and was able to use the prize to set up a boutique fashion business in Bangladesh, a business that now employs 35 women. She uses Ovi Mail to conduct business with retailers in local cities, despite a severely restricted budget.

Nokia is able to produce services and devices that meet the needs of all sorts of people because it takes what McDowell called a ‘hyper-local’ approach to product development, talking to people in all corners of the world and living with them to find out what is needed. She listed a number of examples of the ways Nokia has introduced new products following such research:

  • Interfaces driven by icons, rather than text, so they can be used by people who are not literate;
  • The resounding success of the Nokia C3 in Indonesia and Vietnam, bringing sophisticated smartphone features at a very affordable price;
  • The Nokia C1 and C2 double and dual SIM models, allowing individuals to share phones or get access when travelling between different countries;
  • The Nokia X3 Touch and Type and the new C3 Touch and Type, which offer high-end features at a lower price;
  • The new Ovi Browser for Series 40 phones, bringing rich web browsing to lower-end devices and also saving on data use.
  • The introduction of Ovi Life Tools, providing agricultural advice and other services to farmers. Now available in 11 languages in India, and just introduced in China, with the addition of healthcare advice.
  • Nokia Money, allowing those without access to a bank to conduct transactions using their mobile phones.

McDowell finished by introducing yet another initiative in this space. Nokia is to partner with Intuit to create a customer-relationship management service that is aimed at the hundreds of thousands of small ¬†and medium-sized businesses that are currently run without the benefits of any technology. We’ll provide more details on this service as they emerge.