Nokia Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo spent much of his keynote speech at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas talking about the growth prospects for emerging markets. He showed moving videos about people in India and other parts of the world using cellphones for everything from finding out crop prices and ordering fabric, to mapping the spread of killer diseases and learning English.
Kallasvuo noted that big areas of opportunity include mobile banking, as the number of people with bank accounts — a stunning 1.6 billion — seemed tiny in comparison to the world’s 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions (out of a population of 6.8 billion).
Kallasvuo also noted that while many find email annoying, about 75 percent of the world’s population still hasn’t used it. This was his way of plugging Nokia’s Ovi mobile email service, which apparently attracted more than 5 million users in the first year of operation. He said that this beat first-year sign-ups of all the most popular email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail, a claim that skeptics might find surprising.
In all fairness, it does seem like decent growth for Nokia: the company announced it had more than 4 million Ovi email users only about a month ago. But he didn’t mention how much money Nokia was making from Ovi, something investors are still hoping to get clarity on.
But the company and the industry still has a long way to go, as the executive acknowledged: “We only have scratched the surface of the ability to do business and do good in these parts of the world.”