LAS VEGAS: Nokia chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has used his keynote address at CES to promise $1m (£620,000) in funding for a developer who designs a mobile product that helps improve the lives of the poorest citizens in the world.
The Growth Economy Venture Challenge will include hardware and software ideas, and the entries will be judged by a panel of Nokia staff and private venture capitalists. The winning criteria is that the idea should improve the lives of people earning less than $5 (£3.10) per day.
"We have seen what the tech community can do when it focuses on problems that are also opportunities," Kallasvuo said. "We want to channel that energy towards improving lives in the developing world."
Kallasvuo explained that mobile devices are key to allowing citizens in developing economies to get online, and that there are many more mobile phone users than people with access to a computer. As such, the mobile industry has a vital role to play in the next generation coming online.
This creates serious challenges, however, such as how to design a phone for someone who is illiterate. Nokia is developing such interfaces to suit these new markets, but this has to be done using local knowledge and expertise.
"Business people often tend to lump all of the growing countries outside the West into one category," said Kallasvuo.
"They call them 'developing countries', 'emerging countries' or 'emerging markets'. Each of these markets is uniquely different and complex. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work."
There are 4.6 billion mobile phones in use worldwide, but only 1.6 billion bank accounts, and Nokia is moving forwards with plans for Nokia Money, a mobile phone banking system, to address this.
Kallasvuo brought out an example of Nokia's first phone from 1987, the Mobira Cityman, which cost $6,000 (£3,720) compared to the firm's entry level model today, the 1606, which costs $32 (£19.80).
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