Last week, Nokia announced several new handsets for emerging markets. At first glance, they look like what you’d expect: basic devices without the flashy features of the company’s high-end handsets. However, a couple of the most basic-looking, the 1200 and the 1208, have some cool features of their own that should give them a boost in emerging markets.
First, they support multiple phonebooks — a nod to the fact that in many developing nations, a single handset is shared among several family members or friends. The handsets allow for up to five separate phonebooks that can be managed individually, letting users have their own list of contacts, if not their own phone. Second, they have a call-tracking feature, which lets users set the maximum cost of a call before dialing. This lets users control their spending, but it also helps empower the entrepreneurs in these markets that buy a phone and airtime credit, then resell calls. Two small and superfluous features to those of us in developed markets, but two simple innovations that highlight how creative thinking can triumph even in the most basic of mobile environments.
Neither of these devices are going to have the likes of gadget-site writers writhing in the throes of lust, but these sorts of small innovations will make a big difference in their intended markets, and show the continuous improvement that’s possible on the most basic level of this industry.