When I was presenting some of the findings from our Myanmar survey, someone from the audience raised a question about how much poor people were spending on smartphones. The implication was that it was a luxury. Here are some insights and stories pulled together by the World Bank. If you look inside the bag of any refugee on a life-threatening boat trip to Europe, you see a few possessions that vary from one refugee to another. However, there is one thing they all carry with them: a smartphone.
For most of human history, people have moved. It is only in the relatively short window after the establishment of the Westphalian state, especially after the collapse of the empires after the Second World War, that these movements have been constrained. The logic of globalization is based on the mobility of factors of production. Some economists like Paul Collier have chosen to ignore the need for labor to be mobile too. Those who see the technology glass as half-empty have seen the strong surveillance capabilities of the state as putting an end to movement of people across borders.
We saw that Myanmarese were bypassing feature phones and directly going to smartphones more than a year ago. The numbers we saw from the demand side survey conducted in Feb-Mar 2015 were close to 65 percent. This report says 70 percent. Should be right. The telco’s user base now exceeds 10 million people across 12 of 14 regions and states, Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg said in an August 19 statement.
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.
The Pew Research Center does surveys within the US that contribute valuable information to US policy processes. In this news release, they also present worldwide data. Smartphone adoption, however, shows a different picture. More than half of Americans (55%) have a smartphone, 34% have a feature phone, and 9% have no phone. Elsewhere in the world, a smartphone is less common.
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.
The perception is that 3G networks are not being rolled out rapidly in India. But it could be that the Indian consumer is ahead of the operators and regulators, as we saw in Thailand where smartphone sales picked up well before 3G frequencies were assigned. Global smartphone shipments jumped 47 per cent to 229.6 million in Q2 2013 from 156.5 million units in Q2 2012, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, with Samsung accounting for much of the growth.
ComScore has published its tech predictions. It’s all about mobile. The mobile transition is happening astonishingly quickly. Last year, smartphone penetration crossed 50 percent for the first time, led by Android phones. People spend 63 percent of their time online on desktop computers and 37 percent on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, according to comScore.
We said this would happen. With smartphones, which seem to be surgically attached to the hand of every teenager and many an adult, tablets have opened up a new dimension to mobile computing that is seducing consumers. Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, believes that in 2011 combined shipments of smartphones and tablets will overtake those of personal computers (PCs). The revolution is mobile This marks a turning-point in the world of personal technology. For around 30 years PCs in various forms have been people’s main computing devices.
It seems that all governments under threat fear communication media. Instead of the kill switch, Cameron of the UK seems to be proposing a narrower ban: social media use by miscreants. How does this work? Does the government know who is planning mayhem and who is not? Does it shut down base stations in affected areas, or does it target specific people?
We have been talking about the need to prepare for qualitatively higher volumes of data in Asia as more people start using 3G networks. Our proposals have focused on adding to international backhaul capacity in order to reduce prices of this key input that is now 3-6 times more expensive than capacity in Europe and North America. The New York Times discusses how the data flood is playing out in the US. The projections are that the networks will have to carry the total traffic they carried in all of 2010, in just two months in 2015 in the US. Cellphone plans that let people gobble up data as if they were at an all-you-can eat buffet are disappearing, just as a new crop of data-gobbling Internet services from Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Apple and the like are hitting the market or catching on with wide audiences.
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.
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.
Nokia is big in emerging markets, very big. But marginalized in the smartphone segment. Now the long shot to change that: abandonment of Symbian and adoption of Windows. Why not an open system, one wonders. Microsoft’s operating system software dominates the PC industry.
In the early 1990s, I wrote a conference paper that included a discussion of whether or not prisoners should be allowed to use phones; whether that use should be supervised; and how it should be charged. A revised version of the paper read at Columbia was published: Samarajiva, R. (1996). Consumer protection in the decentralized network, in Private networks, public objectives, eds. E.
We have been talking about an alternative path to the Internet for the BOP in emerging economies. We said this path would be through the mobile phone and talked about how it was converging with the conventional computer, through smartphone and netbooks that would percolate down to the BOP through second-hand markets. But now people beginning to talk about this happening to TOP markets in rich countries as well. Below is Item 7 in a list entitled the ten businesses the smartphone has destroyed: There are plenty of studies that insist that smartphones will begin to replace the PC as the common vehicle for accessing the Internet. Analyst firm Informa Telecoms & Media projects that smartphone traffic will increase 700% over the next five years.