Emerging markets cover a vast expanse of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with many local and regional nuances; yet they are tied together with shared market characteristics – growing economies, rising aspirations of people, low fixed line penetration, and an unmatched growth in mobile telephony that is driving social, economic, political, and cultural transformation. Against this background, I share my top three projections for telecoms in 2013:
#3 Africa will be the fastest growing mobile market in 2013. Growth in India, China, Indonesia, and Brazil is slowing; while the surge in Africa will continue, especially in sub Saharan Africa.
#2 Smartphones and data services will grow and top 10% adoption before the end of 2013, but feature phones will continue to be in super majority. Android will be the undisputed king, as Nokia and RIM cede market share, and Apple continues as an aspirational brand.
#1 Voice-based services, such as social media, messaging, and infotainment, will provide connectivity and reach to a disproportionate number of people, with adoption exceeding 15%. The voice experience is going to lead billions to use their phone as a connected device, overcoming barriers of language, literacy, and ease of use.
The regulatory and political environment provides some concern. Regulatory action could be highly variable and uncertain, especially in 2013, as regulators try to adapt to the changing technology and business conditions.