By Jari Saarhelo
Until the recent Nokia World, I thought Services are happening on high-end devices only. There is a tough competition going on over the best user experience on mobile or the best business application connectivity. Mobile services compete against other media, such as mobile gaming versus handheld consoles, browsing on mobile versus browsing on PC, listening music on a MP3 player versus phone etc. But what if there is no other media available? What if the mobile device is the only computer you have?
Nokia Money in emerging markets opened my eyes. I had been looking at it from a developed world point of view. I.E: yet another way to execute ecommerce transactions, which may be more convenient in some situations, but maybe not too often. The situation is totally different, if you have a mobile phone, but no access to banking services. Yes, this is not a special case, there are a 4 billion mobile phones out there, but only 1.6 billion bank accounts. Suddenly, we are talking about providing basic infrastructure.
It seems that mobile services have a potential to address totally different needs in emerging markets than in developed. Nokia is planning to offer a portfolio of services, which are running on lower end devices. The focus is not on the most responsive and coolest touch UI, but actually providing services, where the infrastructure is not available, such as banking, email/messaging, agricultural information.
Services are happening both on high-end and low-end devices after all. However, what services are successful and the needs of the consumer will be very different depending on the market. In looking at future opportunities emerging market services should not be evaluated from developed market point of view and vice-versa.