Data bundles, affordable handsets drive smartphone adoption worldwide

The new GSMA Intelligence report on smartphone adoption across the world, indicates that affordable handsets, plus subsidies on handsets branded by telcos, and juicy data packages from telcos among other factors are the main drivers of growth in smartphone connection worldwide.

The report titled “Smartphone forecasts and assumptions 2007-2020” pointed out that this is particularly true in the developing world, where smartphone adoption rate remain higher than in the developed world.

Indeed, GSMA Intelligence’s observation is not far from what pertains in Ghana regarding adoption of affordable smartphones, telcos branding and subsidizing low-end handsets and also offering juicy promotional data packages.

On the affordable handsets front, Tecno Ghana, Huawei, I-touch and Nokia have introduced very sleek-look affordable smartphones unto the Ghanaian market and they are gaining market share as the high-end phones lose market share.

Tecno started with its Tecno N series of phones and now it is on the Tecno Phantom series. It has so far churned out Phanton A, Phantom A+, Phantom AIII and Phantom Pad Mini, and is gearing up to launch Phantom Z on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the company has five other affordable handsets, all of which have data packages from some telcos. They include Tecno P5, H5, S3M, R7, and M3. It also has four others, which are not on data packages yet but are relatively affordable.

Huawei has also introduced Ascend Y210 and Ascend Y220 plus other affordable collections unto the local market and they are all gaining grounds, and Nokia has also thrown in an affordable android-based dual-SIM smartphone, Nokia X. Ahead of that, there were the Nokia Asha range, which give access to some social media platforms.

Recently, I-Touch has introduced a collection relatively affordable Infinix smartphones unto the Ghanaian market, and they have been telling Simcardblog the handsets are moving fast and so far “we are even running out of stock.”

Alcatel Onetouch has also introduced a range of affordable handsets in collaboration with a number of telcos in Ghana. They first did Onetouch Scribe HD on Tigo, and the most recent one is the Alpha Idol, which was released on Vodafone.

Alcatel Onetouch is also doing Pixi 2 and Idol Mini smartphones on Vodafone, plus Pixi 2 and Pop C3 soon to roll out with data packages from Tigo.

Meanwhile, the telecom operators themselves, are branding some low-end smartphones and providing subsidies as well as juicy data packages.

MTN Ghana has, for instance, branded Huawei Ascend Y210 and Y220, plus some Tecno phones and Nokia affordable phones and retailing them with juicy data packages at subsidized rates.

Moreover, MTN is also offering what it calls a Social Bundle, which is a data package that allows users to use social media platform like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter for only GHC5 a month (30 days).

MTN Ghana CEO, Sereme Taukobong recently stated that “the number of smartphones users with access to data on the [MTN] network increased from 525 in November 2011 to 1.7million in June 2014. This has been the result of strategic partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Tecno, Huawei and Nokia.”

Other telcos are also offering similar data packages, designed to suit different categories of lifestyles in society, and that is reportedly driving smartphone adoption and its attendant increased mobile broadband usage.

Airtel Africa, including Ghana, are also doing data packages and subsidies on the affordable Nokia X handset.

The GSMA Intelligence noted that on the back affordable phones, the developing world overtook the developed world in smartphone connections in 2011, and now two out of every three connected smartphones are in the developing world.

Taxation: negative impact
However smartphone adoption rate is still lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (15 per cent) largely due to taxation on smartphone import, the report observed.

“Smartphone growth is negatively impacted by taxation imposed on devices by governments, especially in price-sensitive developing economies,” it said.

And this is true of Ghana, where government recently brought back a 20% important tax on phones and accessories in addition to a 6% talk tax, to the chagrin of industry players.

Since the introduction of the tax, some distributors of particular high-end brands have taken on some low end-brands to shore up their revenues because the high-end phones are losing market due to pricing.

But the GSMA is hopeful the trend will change as more low-end smartphones, subsidies from telcos and data packages come on stream in those countries.

“Sub-Saharan Africa [including Ghana] is expected to be the fastest-growing smartphone region over the next six years as affordable devices become more widely available and mobile broadband networks are deployed across Africa,” the report said. “By 2020 four out of every five smartphones in the world will be in the developing world.”

Smartphones forecast
The report said smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020. Currently, smartphones account for one in three mobile connections, representing more than two billion mobile connections.

It forecasts that the number of smartphone connections will grow three-fold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, and accounting for two-thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time.

Basic phones, feature phones and data terminals such as tablets, dongles and routers will account for the remaining connections. The study excludes M2M [mobile to mobile] from the connections totals.

China has the highest number of connected smartphones, but the top five countries with the highest rate of adoption (as a percentage of total connections) are Qatar, the UAE, Finland, South Korea and Norway. Story by Ghana|Adom Business|Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/[email protected]

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