Nokia to Target India's Rural Markets

Nokia has announced that it is taking up several initiatives as part of its strategy to address India's rural market, which is seen as the next big opportunity for mobile service providers and handset makers.

The company's strategy includes financing options to reduce up front costs for ownership of mobile phones in cost-sensitive rural markets. The company is working with a micro-finance agency to work out a financing package that will lower the entry cost for rural users, a Nokia spokeswoman said on Friday. Nokia is running pilots of this program in some rural markets, with a formal launch of the program likely soon, she added.

Nokia is also working with service and content providers to be able to deliver information such as agricultural prices and weather to people in rural areas.

The company is also expanding its sales and service channels and will rely on a mix of both vans and small shops to market its products in the areas, the spokeswoman said.

Gartner forecast last year that cellular services revenue will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 18.4 percent to US$25.6 billion by 2011. Most of the growth will come from rural markets which are under-served, Gartner said. Large Indian mobile service providers are targeting the rural market with aggressive tariffs and low-cost handsets.

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