Several opportunities exist in the Emerging Markets to change the way the society works, interacts, lives and learn through the use of mobile technologies especially the smartphones.
A recent report on the Economic Times states that an average person looks at her phone for about 150 times per day, wow! .You might think this is not possible but when you carefully take note you will find out that most times you pick up your phone just to stare at it even when you don’t have a call or a message. Certainly there is something so special and unique about phones that businesses around mobile phones are constantly innovating and finding new ways of engagement with smartphones.
In 2012 Smartphone shipment globally was twice that of the personal computers. With 1 million new smartphone users per day, Smartphones are fast replacing computers as mobile computing is becoming the norm.The economic importance of smartphones are enormous as Smartphones are constantly and gradually changing the way of life. We see significant increase in internet searches, deep media interaction, increased Mobile social networking and mobile commerce.
Smartphones for Emerging Markets like Nigeria offer enormous opportunity in many areas,two important aspects are Education and Health. A nation’s future and economic strength is hinged on improved learning available to the people. Experts have said that over 180 million students in developing countries can further their education through the use of mobile phones and mobile technologies called mEducation. Delivering education contents via mobile phone will increase learning in these regions especially where there are no classrooms. Higher technologies like the augmented reality can also be used to enhance learning experiences by showing students practical experiments as against just reading them.
Mobile phones will have an increasing impact on health, it can lower costs, facilitate remote health care services, increase effectiveness in mobile health monitoring. No wonder the UK department of health stated that mobile related health interventions has been proven to reduce mortality rate of chronic diseases by 45% through telehealth.
Forecasts show that the Emerging market holds great opportunity for the adoption of smartphones and higher networks in coming years. By 2016,2 out of three devices with 3G or 4G connections will be from the emerging markets as the growth of the network will be at 255%.This is amazing!.
This year about 800million mobile phones is expected to be shipped into the Emerging markets. For Nigeria, despite the challenges in the deployment of 3G/4G networks,the penetration for 3G is growing by 12% and 35 million mobile phones are expected to be sold this year.
Bearing in mind that smartphone adoption is greatly hinged on 3G/4G coverage, increasing affordability of devices, Affordable data plans, and then regulatory facilitation and Government programs:
These smartphones need to be available and affordable!
One company that is focused at making 3G smartphones affordable in the Emerging Market is Qualcomm. In a recent interactive chat (Read our previous interview) with Alex Dadson, the Managing Director of Qualcomm for West Africa, who spoke passionately with the statistics and the trends in the mobile ecosystem. He did not fail to express his optimism and emphasises that mEducation and mHealth are key areas with great potentials for the continent to make global impact.
Mr Alex Dadson while explaining what Qualcomm is focused right now on, said “Qualcomm is essentially a Mobile Ecosystem enabler. We are a wireless Communications Systems company with the framework to add value across the entire mobile and wireless chain, from building innovative technologies to standardization, productization and then commercialization. We work with the Mobile network operators, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and also the Mobile app developers to help bring new mobile technologies and devices to the consumers. We develop a very broad set of technologies required in Mobile devices and integrate them into a single chip. With over 85 device manufacturers,850+ devices launched and 500+ designs in development, our processor the Snapdragon is a clear leader”
According to him, one of the major goals of Qualcomm in the Emerging Markets like Nigeria is to make sure that smartphones are made affordable for Nigerian users. Alex explained that through Qualcomm’s heavy investment in research and development they have found that the best way to support the use and adoption of smartphones in markets like Nigeria is to make the phones affordable while maintaining a good quality and being more innovative.
Qualcomm has come up with the Qualcomm Reference Designs (QRD) which is a program set to meet the needs of the Emerging Markets by supporting the OEMs to commercialize products more quickly with minimal engineering efforts. Mr Alex states’’ what Qualcomm does with the QRD is that we engineer the product from the first stage up to the design and now hand it over to the OEMs to brand and bring to the market.This certainly reduces the time of production of smartphones, reduces the cost and also carry latest innovations from Qualcomm like the asynchronous multi-processing system used in effective power management in Mobile devices”
It is worthy to note that the Qualcomm Reference Designs have over 200 devices launched with more than 40 OEMs in 14 countries including Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. This could be setting the stage for one of the largest technology platforms empowering the Emerging Markets making mobile computing a reality!