[With so much excitement about smartphone growth, we often forget that the biggest opportunity still lies ahead, in connecting the next 5 billion smartphone users to Internet and apps. Guest author Tom Christian Gotschalksen talks about the idiosyncrasies of emerging markets, and the business model innovations that are needed to close the smartphone gap]
Smartphone growth has taken the wireless market by storm, having exceeded the one billion mark back in October. The US and western European markets for smartphones are about to saturate, and with those also the related industries of apps, content and mobile Internet connectivity.
Now US carriers are looking for growth outside of US, and Internet heavyweights like Twitter, Google and Facebook are targeting emerging markets where the remaining five billion users are still to connect to apps and the Internet.
In Asia, Africa and Latin America there is a wave of new, aspiring digital natives. They are enabled by $50 smartphones, and the burgeoning second hand smartphone markets, creating a huge demand for Internet services, apps, games, and Internet connectivity.
But there are two important challenges in connecting the next 5 billion smartphone users to the Internet and apps. It’s the business models behind data and handset subsidies, which are in dire need of innovation.