feature phones Archives — LIRNEasia

So it’s done. More smartphones were sold in 2013 than feature phones. Does this mean that smartphones outnumber feature phones on the world’s networks? No. But that too will happen.
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.
Part of an ongoing discussion at LIRNEasia is the tipping point from the operator-centric world of feature phones (intelligence in the center) to the operating-system-centric world of smartphones (intelligence at the edges). In the developed economies, lots of people assume the tipping point has been crossed. But the operators have not seen their “obituaries,” and seem to be working on immortality pills, in the shape of Blackberries: While the carriers do not openly talk about the threat of Apple and Google, analysts say the two companies have fostered a system that could make carriers slow-growing utilities selling little more than generic network access. The revenue from apps, which provide entertainment, news and other services, do not flow to the carriers. In an apparent bid to exploit those concerns, RIM has repeatedly told carriers that, unlike Apple, it believes that they deserve a portion of revenues from its apps store and as well as future services.