Dec 13, 2008

Business - Nokia plans to design handsets for disabled

Writankar Mukherjee

KOLKATA: In an effort to take the mobile phone to the next billion worldwide, Nokia has started research to roll out handsets, specifically
designed for the disabled. The world’s largest handset vendor plans to undertake extensive research in India to understand the consumer behaviour of people with visual or hearing problems, towards the mobile phone.

Nokia is exploring ways to make the mobile phone friendly for such consumers. This could be done through using a different user interface, using icons and pictures in the menu and the phonebook instead of text, using large fonts, louder ringing tones and voice commands.

These phones might have a different design aspect where India will also play a vital role. Talking to ET during his recent visit to India, Nokia global director, product group (entry business unit, mobile phones) Heikki Koivu said the challenge to sustain growth will be to reach out to consumers who do not use a mobile phone.

“We then have to address issues like physical disabilities, low vision, poor hearing and illiteracy. We also need to design phones that can support hearing aids,” he said. Mr Koivu said India is a focus market for Nokia to understand consumer behaviour of mobile phones among the disabled.

“It is due to the sheer size of the population in this country. We have started adapting such features in some entry-level handsets like Nokia 1650 shipped to emerging countries like India. But, this will now attain more bigger scale,” said Mr Koivu.

India and China are two of Nokia’s largest markets for entrylevel phones. The entry-level portfolio includes handsets, which are priced between Rs 1,500 and Rs 5,000. Nokia is also planning to bundle its internet services ‘Ovi’ in the entrylevel phones sold in India.

“We are planning to bundle most of the Ovi applications in handsets shipped to India, including the music services Nokia Music Store. All such integration will take place over the next three years for the entry-level handsets. We need to simplify these applications to suit the consumer preferences in emerging markets,” said Mr Koivu.

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