The proliferation of mobile phone technology to all parts of the world has been unstoppable and unprecedented. Cell phones are increasing in popularity in developing nations, mainly for their use and practical applications to everyday life. The World Bank posits that 75% of those in emergent nations have access to mobile phones. These consumers, many of whom are new to the mobile phone marketplace, are starting to download apps and use their phones to benefit their lives. Apps for agriculture, finance, and government are especially popular in places like Palestine, India, and Kenya.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that messaging and texting comprise the basic mobile communications in Africa. Innovations are making it possible for phones to “increase school attendance, facilitate banking or cash transfers, create jobs, measure health indicators, accelerate disaster response, and fuel citizen engagement in governance and democracy.”
Even with the potential that phones bring to ease lives, much in the way of individual disposable income is spent buying and maintaining their use. Expert studies suggest that anywhere from 5-30% of one’s income in the developing world is spent on owning a cell phone. The next step in increasing cell phone relevancy in emergent nations is creating tailored mobile applications to serve local needs.
Chinese internet company Baidu, exclusively partnering with France-Telecomm’s Orange android phone provider, is starting to make serious inroads in emerging markets.
Orange’s initiatives also include the start of subsidiary Orange Horizons. The aim of this project, with individual launches happening globally, is to make a proverbial footprint in new markets without making significant capital investment. By not setting up a full wireless network, Orange can focus on innovative online solutions and even construction of brick and mortar shops in these new markets. New products and apps will attempt to build their brand and increase demand before the choice to establish a network is made.
The Orange/Baidu partnership is set to be the top mobile browsing experience in Africa. With Baidu already dominant over Google in China, this is its first large international push into other markets. Partnering with Orange, an established cell provider in this part of the world, the venture promises a more personalized and relevant experience for cell users. Orange’s customer base can only grow and values the African market at $100 billion, with plenty of room for growth. They expect to double revenues in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa by 2015.
– David Smith
Sources: The World Bank, The Cristian Science Monitor, The Next Web, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, Baidu and Orange Sideline Google in Africa, Orange Horizons Target Growth Outside Telco’s Footprint