2013 Trends: Adrian Keet, Director of Strategic Business Development, Neural Technologies

In emerging markets mobile phone subscriptions are still growing, high end smartphones are still in high demand and cheaper locally-made smart phones continue to enter the market. This means that innovation in mobile phone use and business models will increasingly originate from the emerging markets and strongly influence trends in other markets.

1. Data usage and smartphones

Smartphone penetration will continue to grow as more telcos move their networks to LTE, upgrade their billing systems to offer more flexibility such as convergent and/or hybrid prepaid-postpaid billing and ensuring more accurate policy control. Instead of current ‘all you can use’ data subscription models, packages will be offered for specific types of data usage such as social media.

Mobile networks will continue with their push for new revenue from data usage by ensuring smartphones are economically accessible to more subscribers. Despite an increase in cheaper alternatives, consumers are still attracted to high end handsets, often telco-subsidised. However many subscribers on prepaid subscriptions (more popular in emerging markets) will not be used to a postpaid arrangement and this will be a source of bad debt and revenue loss.

2. Mobile payments

Mobile phones and network access are becoming ubiquitous but equally the proportion of unbanked consumers remains large and access to banking facilities remains low in areas outside of metropolitan centers. There will be growing realization that the available credit in individuals’ mobile accounts or wallets can be traded or transferred beyond pure mobile services i.e. the mobile network will facilitate the transfer of credit between mobile subscribers but innovative means will surface on how to use these credits to pay for goods & services.

3. Local deviations from global trends

Some trends will emerge that are specific to local markets. An example is the strong loyalty that remains for Blackberry handsets in Indonesia (the world’s 4th most populous country) whereas the popularity of Blackberry is in rapid decline almost everywhere else. The lesson here will be for telcos to not lose sight of local preferences and locally originated trends while scanning the global landscape for migrating trends.

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