Economies of scale of production of telecom equipment are considerable. There are only a few manufacturers and most countries rely on foreign suppliers. But there are concerns about surveillance being built into the equipment itself, enabling the governments of the countries where the manufacturers are located to spy on others. This issue has come to the fore now as Chinese suppliers are increasingly displacing Western companies. PCMag, a US publication, provides a useful analysis: Network equipment is, in general, where spying happens.
Replacing a phone can be postponed. Getting a new connection? That too can be postponed. It appears these things are being done. I guess we can expect a surge in purchases once the new notes are available.
Our survey caught these trends last year. But the stories are good too. “The Myanmar market has K30,000 smartphones on offer, but people want using phones to be easy,” he said. “The cheaper phones don’t have good touch-screens and can’t store a lot of data compared with K200,000 handsets.” “Now mobile phone users are going online, using apps,” he said.
Singer is synonymous with sewing machines. Like Xerox for photo copiers. And now Singer is selling more phones than sewing machines. And more smartphones than feature phones? Not quite yet.
Telecom operators know exactly how many smartphones are in use in their networks. Therefore, Wireless Intelligence will know. But Reuters appears to be relying on ITU estimates. This year, the number of mobile Internet users in the developing world will overtake those in the developed world for the first time – growing 27 times since 2007, compared to the developed world’s fourfold growth, according to estimates from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). “The centre of gravity in the mobile ecosystem is likely to shift from the United States and Western Europe toward Asia,” Mary Ellen Gordon, director at mobile advertiser Flurry Inc, said in an emailed interview.
I just returned from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a monster event with 70,000 plus attendees that puts the ITU Telecom World events to shame. No wonder ITU’s Hamadoun Toure was introduced at the Ministerial Program as being a good friend from GSMA’s sister organization. We talked policy, but the real game was the exhibition. NYT reports one of the more significant piece of news to emerge: The new handsets, which the company introduced at the Mobile World Congress industry trade show in Barcelona, reinforced Nokia’s strategy of aiming at the lowest-priced but fastest-growing segment of the market. The Nokia 105, the company’s new basic, entry-level phone, will sell for 15 euros, about $20.
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.
It took a little time, but a comprehensive report on the Bangkok launch of teleuse@BOP4 results has been published in the Nation (Thailand). The survey found that Thai users spent more than any other nationality on mobile phones, $93 on average compared to $50 or less elsewhere. Most of the phones they bought had radio connections, while 14 per cent had a Web browser and 5 per cent had touch-screens. Ninety-one per cent of the Thais said they’d used a mobile phone in the previous three months, up from 77 per cent in 2008. More than 90 per cent of the urban users made regular calls, compared to 80 per cent in the rural areas.
The trigger for this post was a call from an outlying area in Sri Lanka. A concerned citizen had got hold of my number and wanted my advice on the effects of cell towers an an observed increase in lightning strikes in his area. I told him that people tend to associate new things like cell towers with increases in lightning strikes, without factoring in the possibilities that (a) there was really no change in lightning strikes, there just appeared to be an increase; and (b) other factors may have changed, including the houses that were being hit by lightning. I said that I could not agree to explanations that went counter to basic physics, namely that high objects such as cell towers would not attract lighting and would instead cause lighting to hit objects that were lower in elevation such as houses. I directed him to several government agencies, including the Telecom Regulatory Commission which was said to have launched a nationwide study on the subject.
This is definitely not the appropriate set of new features that we need at the Bottom of the Pyramid in emerging Asia and elsewhere. Voice commands, greater convenience in reading/viewing, more location-sensitivity, etc. would be among mine. Of course we could also consider what the surveys say about flashlights and radios. But the most important thing is the discussion.
We’ve always wondered how new smart mobile phones, the technological marvels they are, go for so cheap. According to the teleuse@BOP3 study, the average price paid for a new phone by people in SEC groups D and E in Pakistan is USD 47 (down from USD 77 in 2006). The price of a second-hand phone is USD 27 (down from USD 45 in 2006). Counterfeit phones (HiPhone, instead of iPhone) may be part of the answer: Although shanzhai phones have only been around a few years, they already account for more than 20 percent of sales in China, which is the world’s biggest mobile phone market, according to the research firm Gartner. They are also being illegally exported to Russia, India, the Middle East, Europe, even the United States.
According to analysts who see the world as made up of the US market, yes: Analysts and investors are beginning to ask whether the industry can continue growing. The challenge is both simple and daunting: how to expand when more than half of the six billion people on the planet already have phones. And even in developing countries where there are underserved markets, subscribers spend less on phones and services. Craig Moffett, an industry analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, is one of the skeptics.
We don’t write enough about handsets, a crucial element in extending connectivity to those at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Here is an Economist piece on a rapidly rising handset maker. “Although ZTE supplies phones to big names such as Vodafone and Telefónica, most of its customers are in the developing world, where overall handset sales are growing by 16% a year. ZTE’s steady but stealthy rise reflects how much of the growth in telecoms is at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”