The following data is drawn primarily from the ITU – International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) on information and communication technologies.
The top graphic includes North and South America, which really should be segmented into North and South. The second graphic covers all of Africa.
It needs to be stated that these numbers count subscriptions, not exactly “absolute people” – some people have multiple devices, multiple subscriptions. The American market demonstrates that clearly, there are more devices than people. It shows what saturation looks like, though it would likely look even more “static” if the South American data was sectioned out.
For Africa, we still see signs of growth in mobile subscriptions, a trend likely to continue for several years yet.
The disparity in GDP and PPP is probably the number one reason why the African Mobile Market does not get anywhere near the attention of the American, European or even Asian market.
VisionMobile’s new data about the state of the mobile app development industry based upon a survey of 10,000 mobile app developers indicated that developers could make more money developing enterprise apps than focusing on end users. Those with the skills and experience likely will gravitate to these better paying opportunities.
While it can be argued that some markets are saturated, the global picture is not – only 40% or so of the world’s population has internet access, many of these via mobile device. Zuckerberg’s initiative with Internet.org aims to bring the Internet to the rest of the world, where he relates on BusinessInsider.com:
Today, only 2.7 billion people are online — a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9% each year, but that’s slow considering how early we are in the internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains much more expensive than the price of a smartphone.
Everything considered, 8-9% growth per year is really sort of fast. It implies a doubling rate every 8 to 9 years, a task that would be nearly complete in about 20 years. But… and there is always a but, that is a linear projection and does not consider the Law of Accelerating Returns.
The “mobile Internet” as we know it is far younger than the “PC Internet”. Every day, mobile devices tend to get a little more like mini-PC’s and PC’s are getting a lot more like mobile devices. Ultra-light weight and ultra-thin laptops vs. tablets. Technological Convergence is an ongoing process that will continue as it always has, except increasingly faster. Add Google Glass, 3-D Printers, and all manner of new technologies, along with new applications.
So, that’s a huge digression without ever getting to the point I was going to make today about emerging markets. Instead, just look at the different data points on the two markets detailed above and consider one thing. Would you be better off spending $1.00 in a market with plenty of potential for growth or one that is already showing signs of saturation?
What I won’t say is that making money in developing markets is any easier than making money in developed markets, but we will explore this further next week.