Nokia signs services deal with Airtel

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
15 Apr 2013

Nokia is slowly but steadily adjusting its model to include more software and services, starting with its biggest recent success, its Maps and Here location platforms.

It aims to push its services into its natural heartlands in emerging markets, harnessing the still-close alliances it has with many carriers in these areas.

The latest example is an agreement with India's biggest cellco, Bharti Airtel, to sell web and communications services in Africa, where the operator has a multinational organization acquired in 2010. Bharti will sell the Finnish firm's mobile software and browser, the firms said in a rather vague statement.

The objective is clear – Bharti wants to increase the range of smartphone-like services it can offer to users with low end devices, to boost its brand and ARPU in the mass market.

Nokia has the same goal with its “smart feature phone” range, Asha, and has adapted key services like Maps for that platform, as well as releasing a browser which carries out much of its processing in the cloud, making it efficient on low-resource phones.

The new deal has already been implemented in Nigeria as a successful test program and will now be extended, initially to Kenya and then other east African countries. Consumers who buy Nokia software to be used on their handsets in Nigeria and Kenya will be billed by Bharti, helping the carrier increase the amount of its revenues coming from services.

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