Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ovum reveals key recommendations for those addressing the next billion mobile Internet users in emerging markets

Operators in emerging markets must simplify data access and embrace pre-paid user base, says Ovum

Melbourne, 20 August 2013 – The next wave of mobile Internet users will be from urban areas of emerging markets, finds Ovum. The lack of fixed Internet infrastructure in the region and the significant purchasing power of urban residents are pushing both end users and service providers towards mobile. Operators and content providers should therefore step up to help the next billion progress to a smarter mobile Internet experience.

New research from Ovum* highlights the correlation between the growth of the mobile Internet and the adoption of “smart” devices in emerging markets. While the installed base of smartphones accounted for just over 20 percent in emerging markets at the end of 2012, Ovum estimates that it will reach nearly 50 percent by 2017, which translates to over 2 billion devices. As the fastest-growing segment within overall devices, smartphones will be a critical driver of increased mobile Internet use across emerging markets.

“The rising ownership of smart devices is not just giving some consumers access to the Internet for the first time; the wide availability of these devices will also increasingly divert traffic to the mobile web,” explains Shiv Putcha, principal analyst, consumer telecoms at Ovum. “Operators and content providers now have an important role to play in helping the next billion transition from basic voice and SMS functionality, to their initial steps with mobile browsers, and ultimately to smart experiences on the mobile Internet.”

Ovum’s research recommends that mobile network operators (MNOs) embrace the prepaid user base for mobile broadband and also highlight the importance of simplified data access pricing. “The next billion consumers are typically highly value conscious; tariff complexity combined with potential bill shock will deter prospective mobile Internet users. These consumers will expect variety and simplicity in access packages and look for unlimited, time-based, and content-based packages,” explains Putcha.

For content providers, localization of mobile content services is essential due to the strong cultural identities and preference for local languages in emerging markets. Ovum also recommends that content providers partner with operators for billing support to enable users to spend smaller amounts over a larger period of time, particularly considering the limitations of current payment methods.

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