Friday, 21 July 2017

Tailored content key to driving emerging market Web uptake

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom in Barcelona
Tuesday 26 February 13

Mozilla CEO joins counterparts from Nokia, Bharti, newly-named Ooredoo in calling for mobile ecosystems that address local demand.

There is a lot that the telecoms sector can do to drive the deployment and uptake of Internet services in developing countries, but high on the agenda for CEOs representing a broad cross section of the industry on Tuesday was the need to ensure content is tailored specifically for end users in these markets. "Local content is going to be key [to driving uptake]," said Nasser Marafih, CEO of Qtel, which late Monday re-branded to Ooredoo…

There is a lot that the telecoms sector can do to drive the deployment and uptake of Internet services in developing countries, but high on the agenda for CEOs representing a broad cross section of the industry on Tuesday was the need to ensure content is tailored specifically for end users in these markets.

"Local content is going to be key [to driving uptake]," said Nasser Marafih, CEO of Qtel, which late Monday re-branded to Ooredoo.

"We need to give people a reason to upgrade to a new device or new service," he said during Tuesday's opening keynote presentation at Mobile World Congress.

According to session moderator Guy Zibi, head of consulting at Pyramid Research, 90% of the next 2 billion people that will come online over the next few years will live in emerging markets.

Handset maker Nokia is already working hard to make local content available to these new users. One of the services included with its low-cost devices is Nokia Life: an SMS-based service that delivers local news, weather and information.

There are also 300 emerging market software developers making applications for Nokia's Series 40 devices that are in what CEO Stephen Elop referred to as "Nokia's millionaire's club", that is, developers boasting apps that have been downloaded more than 1 million times.

"A subset of that group have passed 200 million downloads each," Elop said.

For Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, whose Firefox OS has been the talk of the show so far here in Barcelona, the true path to tailoring the experience for emerging market consumers starts with removing obstacles to deploying local content, apps and app stores on mobile devices.

In a swipe at Google and Apple, Kovacs said that when it comes to the next 2 billion new Internet users, "the services they will come to expect are impossible to be conceived of by two companies sitting in the heart of Silicon Valley".

It is worth remembering, however, that while Google and Apple do have ultimate control over the apps that make it into their app stores, developers from all over the world are able to write software for these two platforms.

Furthermore, there are some services that enjoy universal appeal.

"Seven out of the top 10 [mobile] Facebook countries are in Africa," noted Manoj Kholi, joint managing director and international CEO at Bharti Airtel. "They're just like everyone else – they're social people, they want to share everything."

This was in contrast to Kovacs' assertion that "the next 2 billion [Internet users] are not going to be like the first 2 billion".

Kholi also said it is wrong for operators to complain about over-the-top (OTT) players putting the strain on their networks.

"I believe this industry has had good luck that OTT players came up with great services," he said. "This industry tried for 10 years and didn't come up with anything good."

Meanwhile, Ooredoo's Marafih made some remarks that contradicted those made on Monday by some of his European counterparts, by calling for more regulation, in some markets at least.

"As with all operators, the major issues are with regulation and spectrum," he said. "We need access to more spectrum and a stable regulatory environment.

"Some markets don't even have regulators yet, so there's no transparenchttp://staging10.terrapinn.com/EditArticle.aspx?ID=0y," he said.

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