This report is the result of research conducted by GSMA’s Connected Women programme and LIRNEasia in Myanmar in 2015. LIRNEasia’s nationally representative baseline survey of ICT needs and usage in Myanmar showed a gender gap  in mobile ownership of 29%  by March 2015.  Together with GSM Association’s Connected Women program, LIRNEasia explored the reasons behind this gender gap through a series of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions held in Yangon (urban) and Pantanaw (rural) among 91 men and women in July 2015. Further questions on mobile internet awareness and use, as well as barriers to use were explored, yielding a rich set of findings and a large set of policy recommendations. Read full report: Mobile phones, internet, and gender in Myanmar
This is not immediately relevant to our market segment, but it will become so over time. This has the potential to displace laptops and small smartphones. The economies of scale will kick in, and prices will come down. And a key element in the Internet eco system will be put in place. According to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, worldwide phablet shipments (smartphones with screen sizes from 5.
It’s been sometime since we wrote about cheap feature phones for the BoP. Around seven years, if my search does not mislead. But here goes Microsoft. We wish them success. The company billed the €19 device as “the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player”.
A study of mobile use by poor micro entrepreneurs in five cities has revealed surprisingly high levels of smartphone use, indicating fast take-up of mobile applications and services beyond voice when competitive network roll-out gathers momentum in the coming weeks. The results of ethnographic research, interviews and focus groups conducted earlier this year by LIRNEasia, a regional think tank based in Sri Lanka, were released by CEO Helani Galpaya in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon in conjunction with the launch of the Myanmar version of a book summarizing research on mobile conducted in three continents. Of the 124 people interviewed for the study, 57 already owned their own phone while the others used other people’s phones or payphones. Of the 57 owners, 42 (73 percent) owned phones that could be categorized as smartphones, with touch screens and browsers. As recently as in 2011, only 15 percent of 10,000 poor people surveyed by LIRNEasia in six South and South East Asian countries had these features.
Facebook is about to announce the results of a major initiative to make its services accessible to those at the bottom of the pyramid who do not yet use smartphones. More than 100 million people, or roughly one out of eight of its mobile users worldwide, now regularly access the social network from more than 3,000 different models of feature phones, some costing as little as $20. Many of those users, who rank among the world’s poorest people, pay little or nothing to download their Facebook news feeds and photos, with the data usage subsidized by phone carriers and manufacturers. We saw this phenomenon back in 2011 when our researchers were in the field in Indonesia and heard them say they use Facebook, but not the Internet. I have also discussed the possible rationale for serving low-income users who may not be generating revenue at this time.

A Facebook phone?

Posted by on March 31, 2013  /  2 Comments

We found people at the BOP in Indonesia claiming they did not use the Internet, yet going into great detail about their use of Facebook. Our colleagues in Africa, RIA, also noted this phenomenon. Western observers are skeptical about the value of a Facebook phone, but perhaps it may make sense in our parts? A smartphone that gives priority to Facebook services is good for Facebook, but it is unclear whether that is something consumers want. Jan Dawson, a telecommunications analyst at Ovum, said the concept was “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Two new infoDev-led studies provide insight into the use of mobile phones at the BOP in Kenya and another in 12 countries in Africa including South Africa The Kenya study (carried out by iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa) found that over 60% of the Kenyan BOP owns a mobile phone. However only 25% of them use Internet on their mobile phone. This is quite high in comparison to LIRNEasia’s 2011 Asian study where less than 4% of the South Asian BOP surfed the Internet via the mobile with Java been the exception where 10% accessed internet via the phone. Further more it was found that at least 20 per cent of the Kenyan BOP respondents felt it was necessary to make real sacrifices to recharge their mobile credit. The estimated value of the sacrifice  the respondent was willing to make, in foregoing other activities, was an average of  84 US cents.
Is it that the Top of the Pyramid is more into multi-SIM use than the BOP? It appears from the report that multi-SIM use may be higher than was reported by Teleuse@BOP4. Or, it could be indicating that multi-SIM use is on the increase, with greater availability of multi-SIM handsets. CyberMedia Research (CMR), a computer and electronic market research firm said 35 of percent of handsets sold in 2011 could have more than one network connected (multi-subscriber identity module). Around 5.
We’ve been pushing for more-than-voice services over mobile. So why do we think voice is the game changer on the horizon? It’s a different kind of voice. One that allows commands to be given to ICT devices using voice. For the BOP, the evidence is crystal clear.
The second of the videos features Rann Vijay Kumar, an agricultural first handler from Samasthipur in Bihar, India. He regularly buys vegetables and cereals directly from farmers, which he then stores and sells to wholesalers. He relies heavily on his mobile phone: to stay in touch with both his supplier farmers and buyers, and to know the latest market prices. Prior to using a mobiles, he used public phones, or passed messages around. Today, he travels less and talks more.
In keeping with the objectives of the Teleuse@BOP4 study, a series of videos have been completed. The focus is predominantly on the productive use of mobile phones. The first in this series features Poonam Devi, a beautician from Bihar, India. Poonam’s life has been transformed since she started using a mobile phone in 2007. It helped her to develop a small business as a beautician.
Most people access the Internet using mobiles. Many use Facebook from mobiles. Our research in Java showed that people at the BOP were beginning to call Internet Facebook. Yet, Facebook does not know how to monetize mobile products? “We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven,” the company said in its review of the risks it faces.
A major step in consumer protection has occurred in the US, with customers now being warned when their data usage and bills go above a threshold. Is this a problem for us in South Asia. Yes, for the TOP (top of the pyramid) customers who actually receive bills. But for our clients, the bottom of the pyramid teleusers, there will be no shock; just disconnect. Because 99.

Love at the TOP and BOP

Posted by on October 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

So, this NYT opinion piece more or less establishes that the iPhone (or smartphone) is a boyfriend/girlfriend substitute among the rich. That’s not what is relevant for us. Does this love exist only at the TOP? What parts of the brain would be activated if fMRIs were run on the BOP? We wouldn’t know an fMRI if it hit us on the face.
My colleague who made the previous post had neglected to look at the cause of the so-called spike in inactive SIMs. The cause is a change in definition, plain and simple. The market revaluation has been triggered by rule changes in the activity period allowed for prepaid users and the effect of mandatory SIM registration. Previously, users would see their services terminated if they had not recharged their prepaid cards or placed/received a call within a period of 180 days. In 2010, that period was reduced to 90 days and, recently, the TRAI has reportedly reduced the period to just 20 days.
Sometimes we can get ideas for services for the BOP from what the rich do with their smartphones and computers: The same day, my brother sent along a link for a new app (leafsnap) that allows users to identify trees by submitting photos of leaves. What a smart way to juice that nature walk, I thought. The next day I saw a Twitter message from Pierre Omidyar (@pierre), the eBay founder, in which he attached a photo and asked, “What is the name of this purple and white flower bush?” Seconds later he had his answer: lilac. Then my sister wrote to ask how she could identify the bird building a nest on her deck.