Emerging Market Handset Strategies- Is Content King?
It might seem counterintuitive, but for the device manufacturer, content stategy for emerging markets could be just as important as their content plans for developed ones. And this is the case even though in such markets 3G networks may not exist, browsing is achieved through basic WAP, and email achieved through SMS.
Offering end-users access to rudimentary but effective data services such as push email and mobile browsing is one way that both operators and handset manufacturers can reduce churn and capture the customer. The same rule applies to operators, incidentally. Nokia is trying to position the Ovi web portal at the centre of the emerging market user's mobile world. Thus it allows users in less-developed markets access to content which they may not have access to otherwise, while reinforcing Nokia's brand identity.
Operators, too, are cottoning on to the fact they can glue the customer to their brand by making email work even on very low priced phones through SMS. On their behalf, mobile email specialist Synchronica facilitates SMS-based email and other services like social networking for operators. Synchronica has signed agreements with operators across Africa and other emerging markets. It is also launching its own MessagePhone in conjunction with the Asian handset manufacturer, KCM.
For Nokia, the low-cost handset with basic email functionality and browser represents a substantial opportunity, because without fixed infrastructure, mobile will be the main point of access for those in emerging markets to access the internet.
A major part of Nokia’s emerging market strategy is to provide services through its OVI store. Nokia notes that there has been a sharp rise in downloads from Ovi Store across Africa owing to local developers creating apps and the introduction of operator billing in several markets across the continent.
Since July 1 Ovi Store downloads by consumers in Africa have grown by 50%; in the same three months Ovi Store active users have grown by more than 20%. And in South Africa, purchases from Ovi Store have grown 438% since operator billing was rolled out in June.
Of course, even in this market its not all good news for Nokia, local handset manufacturers from India and China continue to pile into the market at all levels, particularly the low-end. Their strategies may not be as sophisticated as Nokia's but one thing they are able to do effectively is compete on price...