The pendulum swings again. It was around 10 years ago that the great retreat was in full swing, with US and European telcos retreating from emerging markets (and even masking their investments as France Telecom did by making Mauritius Telecom the holding company for its African operations). Now they’re unloading European businesses to go where the action is. France Télécom, led by Stéphane Richard, is shedding assets in Europe, where phone companies are vying for a shrinking pool of new customers amid tightening regulation, to embrace faster-growing markets in Africa and the Middle East. “It makes sense to exit the difficult Swiss market and may give them more flexibility on the cash-flow side,” said Giovanni Montalti, an analyst in London at Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux.
No one knows how they’re defining users of mobile Internet services, but leave that aside. They’re entitled to some latitude in this moment of reprieve. Hans Vestberg, the chief executive of Ericsson, said in an interview that the results indicated that the transition to mobile Internet and smartphones was bucking the general economic downturn. “Increased global smart phone penetration, new devices and the introduction of tiered pricing is driving continued mobile data traffic growth,” Mr. Vestberg said.
What I like about the new economy is that no one is king of the hill for too long. IBM, the target of Apple’s famous 1984 ad, almost went under and reinvented itself as an open source champion for the comeback. Microsoft is no longer looking like a big bad bully. And Nokia who seemed to own the mobile space is scrambling. It is getting hammered not only in the network equipment space (where the alliance with Siemens did not do much good) but in the main game which is handsets.
In the end, Microsoft’s best intentions may not satisfy what locals want. The company surveyed 8,000 people in emerging markets and found their most pressing needs for technology often revolved around entertainment and surfing the Internet. “It reinforced for us that the emerging middle classes are sort of like the middle classes here except they don’t have as much money,” Mr. Toyama said. “It’s sometimes easy for us to get caught up in things and forget we are serving the needs of real people.
Preconference workshop at the 2009 conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) | 20-21 May 2009, Chicago, Illinois, USA | Download Call for Papers (pdf) Mobile phones are becoming increasingly important in bringing people into the Information Society. It is widely accepted that the inhabitants of the future household will carry mobile devices that will be capable of voice and data communication, information retrieval and forms of entertainment consumption. Mobiles are now (and will increasingly become) payment devices that can also send, process and receive voice, text as well as images; in the next few years they will also be capable of information-retrieval and publishing functions normally associated with the Internet. Through such services and applications, industry experts predict that many in emerging markets will experience the Internet, or ‘elements’ of the Internet for the first time through a mobile phone, rather than a PC; mobile payments, mobile social networking, SMS voting are just a few examples of some of these services and applications. Emerging markets appear to be following a different trajectory from developed markets; while the latter are moving forward via triple- and quadruple-play scenarios, the former are moving on paths that involve mobile phones as the key […]
Sep 4th 2008 | From The Economist print edition Computing: In future, most new internet users will be in developing countries and will use mobile phones. Expect a wave of innovation THE World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body that leads the development of technical standards for the web, usually concerns itself with nerdy matters such as extensible mark-up languages and cascading style sheets. So the new interest group it launched in May is rather unusual. It will focus on the use of the mobile web for social development—the sort of vague concept that techie types tend to avoid, because it is more than simply a technical matter of codes and protocols. Why is the W3C interested in it?