Mobile Internet Revolution in Pakistan
Google CEO Eric Schmidt has started talking up his company's new motto "Mobile First", urging its developers to start creating versions of new services for smartphones before converting to run on PCs.
"There is a huge thirst for smartphones in emerging markets," Microsoft said in a statement. "For many people, the phone rather than the PC is the main entry point to the Internet, resulting in a high demand for rich communication devices. In order to meet this demand, we have teamed up with MediaTek to facilitate the provision of affordable smartphones," the company added.
As the smart phones prepare to take center stage among computing and Internet access devices, there seems to be a rare consensus emerging among the American technology titans at Apple, Google and Microsoft that the smart phone will be the primary device used to access the Internet...particularly as it relates to demand in the developing world where mobile phones have much higher levels of affordability and market penetration than the personal computers. A logical outcome of such a consensus is the increasingly fierce competition which will significantly drive down the cost and dramatically increase availability of smart phones globally, particularly the developing nations like India and Pakistan where the telecom companies are already building mobile broadband networks. PTCL currently offers 3G service in Pakistan, and a 3G license auction is planned for this year to add more service providers. In addition, the growth of Wi-Fi in South Asia will be an added low-cost data option for smartphones.
BlackBerry service is offered by a number of telecom service providers and widely available in Pakistan's cities, towns and villages. Last year, Time magazine reported from Faridkot, a Pakistani village, that "straddles a paved road about 2 1⁄2 hours' drive from Lahore, and two new gas stations mark the village boundaries. Beyond those are factories and fertile farmland. There is even BlackBerry service". However, the high cost of Blackberry device and mobile Internet service limits it to only about 60,000 elite subscribers in a nation of over 100 million subscribers, about 64% of the population. India, with about 50% cell phone penetration, has nearly 400,000 Blackberry user. The number of Internet users can be expected to rise exponentially as affordability significantly increases to satisfy what Microsoft calls "a huge thirst for smartphones in emerging markets".
The key cost reduction drivers are likely to be similar to the ones seen in the earlier PC battle in 1990s between Wintel (Windows on Intel) and Apple Mac platforms which I personally observed and enabled as a CPU pioneer at Intel. While Macintosh represented a major advance in ease of use with Apple controlling it, the Wintel platform opened up hardware competition with multiple vendors leading to lower prices and tremendous growth in terms of applications and hardware availability. In this new era, the two biggest entries are expected to be Apple iPhone and Google Android, with each trying to outdo the other in terms of ease of use, number of applications and prices.
While Apple currently enjoys dramatic iPhone growth, it's future market share is likely to suffer from the cost barriers it is building into its pricing model which designed to maximize its profits with ongoing revenue stream from third-party content. According to Newsweek, there’s only one place where anyone can buy iPhone apps: Apple’s online App Store. And Jobs keeps a 30 percent cut of the revenue. As for ads, Jobs will sell those, too, and he’ll keep 40 percent. Of course, Jobs also sells music, movies, and books via his iTunes Store, keeping 30 percent. So instead of a one-time sale of a Mac, each iPhone and iPad becomes an ongoing revenue stream.
Currently, Q1/2010 market data shows that Apple iPhone and Google Android are running neck and neck, each selling at an yearly rate of 36 million phones each, while RIM's Blackberry is slightly ahead with about 40 million phones a year. Nokia (Symbian OS) still leads the pack with sales of 86 million smartphones a year. The overall smartphone shipments of about 230 million units still lag the 275 million PCs sold annually. However, a number of forecasters expect smartphones annual sales to equal or exceed PC unit sales by 2011.
Currently, only 7% of Indians and 11% of Pakistanis have the Internet access, according to ITU. Growth in the Internet access anticipated via smartphones can open up a vast new world to a larger number of South Asians. Smartphones have the potential to spur mass literacy, significantly improve health, enable wider access to financial services, help enhance human productivity and afford new opportunities for e-learning for human development to reduce poverty. Growth of Mobile Internet with availability of a new wave of smartphone applications in India and Pakistan has the potential to revolutionize South Asia.
Wireless Broadband in Pakistan
Mobile Internet in Pakistan
Media and Telecom Growth in Pakistan
Poverty Reduction Through Telecom Access
Pakistan's Telecom Boom
Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth
WiMax Rollout in Pakistan
Mobile Internet in Pakistan
Low Literacy Threatens Pakistan's Future
Gender Gap in South Asia
Mobile Financial Services in Pakistan
Financial Services in Pakistan
Distance Learning in Pakistan
Top 5 ICT4D Trends in 2010
ICT4D in Pakistani Hospital
ITCN Asia 2010 Conference in Karachi
State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan