Friday, August 15, 2008

Business Advantages of Content and Service Partnerships

Nokia has cemented its position as a market leader in nearly all of the world’s top emerging markets by offering numerous handsets with a wide range of prices and functions, creating an extensive network of distributors and resellers, and answering consumer demands in diverse environments. According to (Nokia-supported), an online community focused on mobile communications for social benefit, the Finnish company is also quietly supporting projects that enable educational content delivery to primary schools and mass SMS text delivery by non-government organizations (NGOs).

Nokia is partnering with several government agencies and NGOs on BridgeIt, a service that allows primary school teachers to review a menu of math, language and science content on their mobile phone and order lessons with a simple text message. The request is relayed from a server to a satellite, which immediately beams the content to a TV in the classroom. Similar services use an expensive two-way satellite interface or an Internet-based menu. The BridgeIt program (under the name “text2teach”) has benefited over 150,000 students in the Philippines and recently expanded to Tanzania. Nokia has joined another group of investors to support FrontlineSMS, a web-based platform that allows non-profit organizations to send and receive mass text messages with millions of mobile phone users. The service enables remote data collection, supports several common languages, and works on a wide range of software platforms, handsets and modems. Now in use in over 40 countries, the free service has helped NGOs coordinate health initiatives, publish price information, and act as government watchdogs.

These are only two examples of a rapidly-expanding array of content and service delivery models that rely on mobile telephone technology. Nokia is not the only telecommunications company involved in these initiatives; Qualcomm, Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T (to name a few) have also supported content-delivery projects in Africa or Asia, and Google’s open source Android platform will enable the development of useful tools to new handsets. Vital Wave Consulting likes the benefits such programs bring to private-sector partners. Collaboration with government agencies, foundations and NGOs (i.e., major buyers in emerging markets), direct exposure to the changing role and usage of mobile phones, and brand association with the benefits of social programs are just a few of the dividends from such investments. Collaboration and facilitation of beneficial programs such as BridgeIt and FrontlineSMS allow handset companies to concentrate on their core competencies and extend their access to diverse, important customer groups in new markets.

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