Nokia has started testing Nokia Listings in India - a service much like Craigslist, only without the internet.
Instead of expecting users to have computers, or even smartphones, Nokia Listings uses GPRS and runs on Series 40 handsets to provide information to the barely-connected. The service can even fall back on SMS connectivity when particularly network challenged.
The application comes, unsurprisingly, from Nokia‘s Betalabs, and has little obvious revenue potential though one could have said same for Craigslist when it launched. Craigslist itself has an Indian presence, but getting a service like this to work on low-end phones (Nokia's application uses J2ME) is an achievement, and getting it to work over SMS is even more impressive.
Nokia reckons that despite the presence of Craigslist 60 per cent of consumer-to-consumer deals are done by word of mouth, with most of those going through a middleman who takes a cut. Putting people directly in touch should remove that middleman, reducing costs for everyone, in much the same way as Craigslist does.
How well it works will depend on reaching a critical mass of users, as well as the reliability of the service. The Indian beta should establish both of those, but it will be a while before Nokia Listings is challenging Craigslist for small ad revenue. ®