Rural regions in emerging markets have been predicted as the source of the next billion mobile connections, according to leading industry analyst Ovum. Despite a lack of basic infrastructure in many remote regions, the firm states that users in these areas understand the importance of mobile going forward, and are keen to obtain handsets that will allow them to keep up.
Ovum telecoms analyst Shiv Putcha said: “Emerging markets will account for the bulk of the next billion connections, and despite increasing awareness of smartphones, these users will primarily purchase entry-level and feature phones.”
He added: “Users from the next billion have a distinct hierarchy of expectations from their devices including durability, problem-solving features, versatility and connectivity. However, while connectivity is highly desirable, it is generally unaffordable, challenging to use and impractical for most users in rural and remote communities”.
Although global use of smartphones is increasing, it is unlikely that they will become affordable enough that the next billion mobile users will be able to adopt them, making feature phones the logical choice.
For those living in rural regions, a major factor in choosing a device is one which is often considered insignificant in developed markets – the cost of recharging. With highly limited grid electricity in many rural areas in emerging markets, a cost-effective charging solution is a deal-breaker.
“The business of charging devices is progressing, and several charging solutions are already available from device vendors, NGOs, and startups. These can be standalone accessories designed exclusively for mobile phones, or appliances that provide electricity for multiple functions such as lighting as well as charging a mobile phone,” added Putcha.