As rates of internet connectivity steadily rise around the world, mobile app developers would do well to turn their attention to burgeoning markets in developing countries.
In the Western world, smartphone and internet use are pervasive and deeply ingrained elements of daily life. But recent studies suggest that developing countries are not far behind.
In February of this year, the Pew Research found that rates of internet and smartphone usage are quickly rising in emerging and developing economies such as China, Turkey, Malaysia, and Brazil. In a survey of 21 developing countries, 54% of adults reported using the internet — constituting a marked rise from 45% in 2013. As for smartphone ownership, the spike was even more dramatic, jumping from 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015. The most significant jumps were observed in Turkey and Malaysia, where connectivity increased by 17% and 34%, respectively.
The Pew findings also highlighted strong correlations between income level, age, and internet connectivity. Across the globe, those aged 18-34 were more likely to be connected to the internet than other demographics. And in highly-developed countries like Canada, Spain, Australia, and Italy, the rates of internet connectivity hovered around 100%, according to Mashable. Interestingly, for those regions that exhibit a lower rate of connectivity, such as the Middle East and Latin America, the rate of social media use was the highest.
Additionally, and most relevant to app developers, the research indicates that there is great potential to convert those currently without internet access into devoted users. Those who do have access to the internet tend to be prodigious users — three-quarters of those who have an internet connection say they access the web several times a day.
The Emerging Mobile App Market in Developing Economies
As the statistics from emerging economies reveals, there has been a recent and widespread proliferation of smartphone and internet usage as of late, and the potential for app developers to capitalize on this trend is immense.
Much of the explosion in the use of smartphones is due to their relative cheapness; in some countries, a basic phone can be procured for as little as $30. Mobile apps are already beginning to proliferate the developing world, and have had a life-changing impact on those who use them. In rural Kenya, M-Pesa users have increased their income by 30%, as the Guardian explains, while in India, over five million people are attending classes through the Bharti Airtel mEducation platform.
Clearly, there is a huge business opportunity for mobile app developers in these emerging markets. As data is extremely expensive to buy in these economies, as TechCrunch explains, there is a present need for apps that optimize data use — such as Android’s Data Usage screen, which allows the user to set limits for their data usage and track how much they’ve used. Likewise, maintaining the battery life of one’s phone is a constant battle if you live in a village without electricity — an app developed to minimize battery expenditure would be hugely useful in these economies.
Apps can also be a massive boon to public health in countries that currently lack the infrastructure for sophisticated healthcare services. Peekvision, for instance, is a mobile app developed to conduct eye exams without the use of expensive ophthalmoscopes. By positioning the phone at the eye level of a patient, a minimally-trained health care worker can take a picture of the patient’s eye and send the image to a more qualified optician via text or email. As blindness is preventable in 80% of cases, this service could change millions of lives in developing countries for the better.
As emerging economies are on track to reach record levels of smartphone ownership and internet use, mobile app developers would be wise to direct their efforts towards matching this demand.
Latest posts by Jamie Ayers (see all)
- When It Comes to Campaigning Apps, A Clear Winner Emerges - October 27, 2016
- Emerging Markets Are Essential to App Developers — Here’s Why - October 13, 2016
- Out-of-the-Box UX Design Can Eradicate Racist User Behavior — Just Ask ‘Nextdoor’ - September 29, 2016