In Part 1, I discussed the positive role mobile devices are playing in emerging countries around the world. In Part 2 I will explore where telecommunications companies believe their next greatest mobile marketing opportunity is the world.
Mobile markets have become saturated in many areas of the world so mobile manufactures are now looking for new services and locations to market their technology. Emerging areas such as China, India and Latin America have all been explored, so where is the next big mobile frontier?
Africa, is now considered one of the last important and untapped locations for mobile companies to penetration in the world. While there are still opportunities in developed countries to market data and content delivery services, mobile industry experts believe Africa is currently less risky from a business perspective. Africa is also easier to penetrate from a marketing perspective because the demand is so large.
Africa also has a very large population with a low mobile saturation level, which provides for large minute-usage profits. And mobile companies view Africa as a future success story because of its unique cultural and economic conditions, and as a location for innovation and new product introduction such as M-Banking.
In the telecommunications space, voice traffic has traditionally been the revenue generator, although in 2010, emerging markets like Africa have seen data transmission (including voice over IP) exceed voice traffic. Mobile companies are also exploring ways to develop new business opportunities through data traffic use; this is because the margins are typically smaller than voice usage profits.
So what are the new opportunities in mobile within emerging nations?
A 2009 World Bank report ‘Information and Communications for Development 2009, found the mobile platform as the "single most powerful way to reach and deliver public and private services to hundreds of millions of people in remote and rural areas across the developing world".
Considering the large populations of emerging countries, their recent exposure through the internet and wireless mobile services to news, trends, and cultures worldwide, content developers of the future will focus on the development of educational content via mobile and wireless communications.
Fixed lines to the internet are limited in emerging areas around the world. For example, in 2010 there are approximately 4.3 million fixed broadband lines in South Africa; that number is down from 5.5 million, and the trend is continuing in favor of wireless broadband. What this means is that mobile devices are going to have to support the demand of the growing wireless population. Content, application, and social media development will be at the forefront of this trend, and mobile phone manufactures are addressing this demand by creating more robust and less expensive hand-held devices targeted at emerging markets.
For example, Nokia has introduced the E 63 mobile phone, which is almost Identical to their E 73, but costs them less to manufacture and sell in emerging areas because the body is made of plastic.
E63 with plastic case E73 with Steel case
In South Africa, the demand for mobile devices and wireless connectivity is on the increase, and this demand has been fueled in part by mobile manufacturers in Asia. These manufacturers have targeted emerging countries through the introduction of sophisticated mobile devices, including ones that can broadcast television content. Mobile devices like these are not commonly seen in developed regions of the world. This is a classic situation where environmental conditions dictate; the cost of a television is much higher than that of a mobile device that can display a TV broadcast signal, and providing a steady flow of electricity in many emerging communities is challenging due to poor infrastructure, while broadband is too costly for many to afford.
In the future we may learn about the latest mobile technology from locations in Africa such as SWETO (an urban area of the city of Johannesburg) rather than Silicon Valley, California.