The Blog

Are the Emerging Markets Driving Innovation in Mobile Technology?

Unlike their western counterparts, we have seen these developing countries - with their young, increasingly tech-savvy populations - moving straight to new technologies, including wireless, mobile and app usage.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The emerging markets have skipped a number of steps when it comes to technology usage. Unlike their western counterparts, we have seen these developing countries - with their young, increasingly tech-savvy populations - moving straight to new technologies, including wireless, mobile and app usage.

When it comes to mobile growth, the emerging markets are the key.

In recent years, the emerging markets have seen strong progress in mobile development; in many of these countries, lowering connectivity service costs and affordable SIM cards are to blame. It seems independence from fixed-lines and dependable electrical supply are driving the evolution of mobile technology in less developed areas. However, it is imperative that app developers take into account the reduced capabilities of mobile devices in many emerging markets.

Indonesia is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world; there are currently more than 280 million mobile subscribers. The government is focused on smartphone development, expecting the production of 35 million smartphones every year from 2017 onward; by the same year, the country's wireless network is set to be upgraded to 4G speeds. Industry experts expect this development to further boost mobile uptake. Indonesia is fast becoming one of the world's most promising mobile markets. In my opinion, the young average age, rapidly growing population, and expanding middle-class with increased purchasing power, all point toward a positive future for smartphone growth.

Lamudi data shows app traffic in Myanmar is almost as high as website traffic; the country is embracing mobile. This is a result of low device prices, cheap SIM cards and affordable data packages. Data from On Device Research also shows only 38 percent of the nation uses a PC or a laptop on a weekly basis. As Internet connectivity improves, we're likely to see the dependency on mobile devices opening up a multitude of exciting opportunities to many industries, including real estate, financial services and communications.

Not only are emerging markets driving the growth in mobile technology, they are also breaking new ground. Kenya is leading the emerging and developing world in mobile payment technology. The country is pioneering mobile money with its innovative digital payment system via a simple text message. According to recent reports, Kenyans made 824 million mobile transactions last year, with a combined value of Sh2.1 trillion ($19.7 billion).

Most emerging markets bypassed landlines, desktops and dial-up Internet, and moved straight to mobile devices and apps. Now, they are outpacing their counterparts in the Western world, driving the development of mobile technology. It's an exciting time. In the coming years, we will see the majority of growth in mobile consumerism, smartphone penetration and mobile banking taking place in the emerging markets.