The fastest adopters of mobile innovation are not just infrastructure-rich markets. It’s in regions like Africa and Asia where peoples’ first experience of the Internet is mobile. Smartphone uptake is exploding in emerging markets due to rising wealth, brand desire, access to education and need for key services in health, welfare, education and finance. In many ways, they are further advanced in mobile service innovation, as many businesses are built first from a mobile perspective.
Across emerging markets, mobile is consistently an engine of growth, but as technology evolves, the mobile industry will need to play an active part in helping governments address socio-economic challenges, enable progress and build sustainable mobile ecosystems for the future. To discuss some of these challenges, we held a panel at BlackBerry Live 2013 with industry leaders, analysts, and developers to exchange insights on BlackBerry innovation in emerging markets around the world.
Participants in the panel included: Robert Bose and Wes Nicol, BlackBerry’s Regional Marketing Directors for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America (LATAM) respectively; Leandro Melo de Sales, Professor at Institute of Computing (IC) at Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL) and Principal at BlackBerry Tech Center, Brazil; Alexander Rusli, CEO of Indosat, one of Indonesia’s largest telecommunication networks and service providers; Leon van Dyk, BlackBerry apps lab manager in South Africa; and Victor Dibia, developer and founder of denvycom in Nigeria.
Moderator John Jackson, Vice President of Mobile & Connected Platforms at IDC, opened the discussion by discussing the significant roles that mobile devices play for customers in developing markets, including functioning as a primary source of information, internet access and general computing needs.
Panelists then discussed the specific trends that are driving innovation in their respective regions. In Indonesia, Alexander Rusli noted the decline of mass-focused applications such as Twitter and Facebook, but great opportunity for community-based applications, such as for football communities or the fashion industry. Wes Nicol talked about the need for precise market segmentation in Latin America, noting that mobile device usage and behaviors varied from country to country and market to market.
Another topic of discussion included the lack of infrastructure in various developing markets, which the panelists observed as a catalyst for innovation. The lack of Internet and computing infrastructure has inspired new use cases for mobile devices. In Nigeria, Victor Dibia has observed that “students primarily study using their devices, small businesses convert customers using BBM, and these new activities are creating new opportunities for innovative apps from developers.”
Lastly, the panelists welcomed the newly announced BlackBerry Q5 device. “Do not stop releasing devices aimed at emerging markets [such as the Q5], so that the transition… to BlackBerry 10 is a smooth one and widely adopted,” said Leon van Dyk.
Do you work in some of the world’s fastest growing mobile markets like our panelists? What mobile innovation trends have you observed to be particularly relevant?