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Texting in Uganda

LONDON, United Kingdom – Blink and you might miss what I felt was perhaps the biggest story of Nokia World.

Don’t be tempted to write off the Series 40 Nokia Asha devices because of what they aren’t.

Look at them for what they are.

These handsets offer access to the internet at a range of prices people across the globe can afford. 

Think about it, which car changed the world. Was it a high-end Daimler produced around the turn of the century?

No, it was the Model T Ford, which first rolled off production lines in 1908.

The Model T was revolutionary because it was the first car that every family in the United States could realistically aspire to own.

In the West, being connected is almost viewed as a human right. But in the rest of the world, it’s still a luxury.

Nokia has been determined to make access available to everyone.

Today’s mobile market is global, but you might be surprised to learn that three billion people in the world still don’t have a mobile phone. The majority of those who do have phones use SMS to do business, talk to their friends and find out what they need to know. Nokia’s Series 40 range has been vital in connecting millions of people in emerging markets, from letting farmers look up prices for their crops to a group of girls in Kenya who’ve developed a killer app to find the best boyfriend. 

Last week a Nokia team led by Executive Vice President (Mobile Phones) Mary T. McDowell, toured India to focus on providing the right services to consumers. Dual-SIM devices have been part of the answer, but Nokia wants to go further in producing the best phones for specific countries. 

Now the new Nokia Asha range gives dual-SIM, great music, Nokia maps and vital battery life (more important in the developing world than in the US or Europe). And it will connect millions of new users.  

The average shop price of smartphones has been RISING for the last four years.  So what is regarded as THE survival tool of the century so far, is increasingly becoming beyond the reach of most people in the world.

That trend has to be short term.

In Europe and America, many wonder at the power of voice-controlled contextual searches. But the rest of the world looks on, unable to engage because even if it could afford the technology, it wouldn’t talk their language.

High-end smartphones are not in themselves revolutionary.

But a smartphone that the whole world can afford really is.

Nokia are doing for mobile what Henry Ford did for the motor car, giving people affordable access to the internet on relatively inexpensive mobile phones.

The same goes for apps. Have a look at the humblest of the phones launched today, the Asha 200.

It has something with true revolutionary potential on board. A short-cut to web apps.

The range of phones you see today from Nokia is the start of the democratization of mobile, when everyone on earth will be able to benefit from access to the web.

Nokia’s strategy is about inclusivity, empowerment and, ultimately, freedom. 

So when we look at Nokia Asha, let’s please move away from the simplistic “is it an ‘X’ killer” mentality.

Who cares? Will billions of people buy it and use it, is a far better question.

And the answer is yes, they will.