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Info-flinging service Nokia Life gets webby, gains a plus

Mobile data spreads across developing world

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Nokia has extended its Life Tools selection with Life+, a web-based addition to its advice-and-information-dispensing SMS service, reflecting just how widespread basic data services are these days.

Nokia Life (as the service was renamed in February) uses SMS to deliver information in a wide variety of languages to what we're now calling "emerging societies", including China, Indonesia, and India. Life+ will be available in just those three, and only in English, and with a mix of advice and trivia rather than more-obviously-practical facts and figures, though in mitigation it will be free.

Nokia Life is a rare example of a mobile application which genuinely helps those most in need, while financially rewarding the company which delivers it. Nokia charges a subscription for Life, which is delivered over SMS and presented using an app which runs on the most basic of Nokia handsets: the information includes market prices for crops, weather reports and cricket results.

Life+ is a little less statistical, delivering "Life Skills" including help with literacy and job search, not to mention self confidence and interpersonal skills. That will be supplemented with "Life Healthy", providing advice on diet and healthcare.

Given the cost of the data provided by Life (much of which comes from agri-info service Reuters Market Light), it's not surprising that the content provided by the free Life+ is softer, and given that it's delivered to the web browser, one might ask why its branded "Life" at all.

The answer is, of course, that those societies are emerging, and Nokia wants to migrate them towards mobile data and (Nokia branded) smartphones. Which is why Life+ is being promoted as a feature of the higher end Asha handsets, while Life gets pushed out to Series 30 and 40 devices which don't sport a named platform.

Nokia is building on the success of the Life product to upsell its brand and services in the not inconsiderable parts of the world to which the smartphone wars haven't yet spread, which, given the way those wars are progressing, isn't a bad thing. ®

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