Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2012 has kicked off and the first big presentation is from Nokia. CEO, Steven Elop took the stage and was very excited about how far Nokia has come in a year. The change of strategy to focus on design, location based services and affordability has “changed the clock speed of Nokia”.

Although Nokia has been losing market share to Apple and Android in developed countries, they still dominate in developing countries like China and India.

In recognition of their stronghold markets Nokia’s Mary McDowell, Executive VP of Mobile Phones announced the extension of something called Nokia Life Tools. Nokia Life Tools is an SMS based, subscription information service designed for emerging markets which offers a wide range of information services. The concept is to help people in developing learn key life skills that will help them more rapidly progress their country. The service was a new product created from scratch and partnered with local government organizations, NGOs and universities. The service was launched in China in May 2010

Some of key areas that Nokia wants to help developing countries are in Agriculture, Education and Health.  .

In Agriculture, farmers can find out about weather conditions, advice about crop cycles, general tips and techniques and market prices for crops.

In Education, people can learn basic English or even basic financial literacy skills. Live on stage they also demonstrated the ability to take a short poll like “Do you mix personal and business finance?” and immediately see the results. Of course the results can be used to improve their information and also market certain products.  Localized for China and targeted at people who are very attached to their mobile phone, this is a great tool to teach people simple but effective skills that. Other topics that people can study are history, geography, biology, physics and chemistry. In India, it also includes a service that allows students to retrieve their exam results through their NLT app.

In Health, people can even call a number and get direct access to a real expert who can help them with an answer to a specific question. Imagine how useful this could be for people who have no idea what to do in a medical emergency or don’t have access to a doctor easily. Services are offered to help out with pregnancy and childcare advice, men’s health, and women’s health. More specifically topics like respiratory, heart, diabetes, hepatitis and digestive health which are specific to some countries.

Elop said “It has been a very challenging year for Nokia.” But at least Nokia is trying to help people in developing countries with their challenges.

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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