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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Mobile growth in Africa and thoughts on feature phones

WATBlog carried an interesting piece of research by Opera which shows the growing African mobile internet market. The growth of mobile in Africa has paralleled that in developing Asian markets and shows many interesting similarities to what has happened in India in the past, and is happening now.

Some points that were of interest to us in the report:

1) The increase in usage of Opera Mini (Opera's mobile browser) also indicates the growth in browsing from older or non-smartphone operating systems especially Symbian. When you tally this with Nokia's strong presence in the African continent, and the handset models used to access the internet, you can appreciate the huge feature phone story that is going to play out in net access in developing markets.

2) Opera notes in the report that data consumption outstrips page views, meaning that Africans are viewing rich content or full sites on their phones. This ties in with the mobile as the sole access device for the internet - you would look for the 'full web experience' as opposed to a multi-device user with PC+phone access to the internet, who would seek a more compressed or crisp synopsis.

3) The trend of interest in news sites, especially international news sites in Africa shows the hunger to connect with 'what's happening out there' as well as a keenness to know 'what the world is saying about us'. While the net has fuelled a growing appetite for real time localised news, it still fulfills a primary purpose to connect us with what's happening in the outside world. 

We live in interesting times and the mobile growth story in Asia and Africa is going to play out very differently from USA and Europe.