Operators in emerging markets must simplify data access and embrace pre-paid user base, says Ovum
With emerging markets to provide the next flood of mobile device users, mobile operators and content providers should step up to help the next billion users progress to a smarter mobile internet experience said research firm, Ovum.
The next wave of mobile internet users will be from urban areas of emerging markets, Ovum stated. 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, yet services need to be simplified to make this growth faster and easier.
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% in emerging markets at the end of 2012, Ovum estimates that it will reach nearly 50% by 2017, which translates to over two 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,' explained 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 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,' added Putcha. For content providers, localisation 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.