Cellular service provider, Bharti Airtel, today announced the launch of Kannada handsets and a strategic tie up with Indian Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO).
This is as part of its marketing strategy to cover 90 per cent of Karnataka's population by 2009 and to achieve deeper rural penetration, Venkatesh V, CEO, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel, Karnataka, said.
Announcing its "Grameena Mobile Kranthi" campaign, he said that the next wave of explosive cellular growth in the state is expected to ensue in rural Karnataka. Even though Karnataka has 17 million mobile users in general, the number of rural mobile users in the state was just five million, accounting for just 13 percent of penetration in rural market.
As part of the campaign to expand subscriber base and focus on developing the rural market, Airtel has partnered with Nokia to come up with two handsets that would have the menu and sms facilities in Kannada.
Many have shed a tear or two of happiness on reading this, considering this as a great development (which it is). However, if one looks at this closely, a tragic fact emerges - the fact that the urban population of Karnataka - which is no less Kannadiga than the rural population - has to this date accepted phones with the English user interface (or, some greater souls, a English + Hindi interface)!
Why is that? Why hasn't the average urban Kannadiga mustered enough self-respect to ask for a phone in his own language? Why has the same Nokia sold hundreds of millions of mobile-phones in Hebrew, Catalan, Korean, Mandarin, Greek, and not assumed that an English user-interface would suffice? The answer lies in the hard truth that the urban Kannadiga has forgotten his true identity - that of a Kannadiga. What a tragedy!