Have a Great Idea? Nokia Might Pay $1,000,000 for It

This morning I got a chance to cover the Nokia keynote for GigaOm and the big news wasn’t about devices. Instead it was all about why Nokia continues to focus on developing nations, and I’m glad I got to see the explanation. Several mini-presentations showed me  how much technology I take from granted. We’re constantly on the lookout for the latest tech and hottest hardware with the best specifications. And yet the most basic of phones can do so much more. Perhaps not in terms of functionality, but definitely with regards to making life better. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote earlier:

“Crop monitoring, pricing, weather tracking and the sending of currency from a handset are promising types of applications for developing areas, according to Kallasvuo. Today, many of these tasks can be done with Nokia Life Tools on a basic phone costing $32 — still a large sum in developing areas, but the investment can pay dividends. Advanced apps like Nokia Tej on a basic handset allow for supply chain orders through mobile phones, removing paperwork and other obstacles in already challenged lands.”

I recommend a look at the Nokia Progress Project to see the positive impact Nokia is making. The company is clearly dedicated to “connecting people” and I see that now more than ever after today’s event. It’s commitment is now backed up by a Global Economy Venture Challenge with a one million dollar investment to the winner. Nokia is looking for an application idea that helps make life easier and provides upward mobility for people that live on less than $5 a day. As I read the details, you don’t need to be a developer (although that would likely help), so if you’ve got an idea, you might want to submit it. The whole idea is that developers can both “do good business and do good” at the same time.

Hard currency aside, I walked away from today’s keynote with a new perspective on Nokia’s global commitment. It gave me pause when I think about how so many of us focus on their declining smartphone market share. Clearly, there’s more to business than market share — making a positive impact on people’s lives is part of the success equation as well.

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