Here come the next billion smartphones

Big news from the Ig Nobel Prize this year as one winner explains why  banana skins are slippery.  Earlier winners have included the  researcher of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck. The originator of this dubious study is Kees Moeliker and he was a guest on a recent episode of Radio 4 show The Museum of Curiosity together with legendary internet entrepreneur and founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.


They were asked to donate an item for the museum by programme host and devisor John Lloyd (Blackadder and Qi).  Jimmy Wales gave a $10 phone which he’s GOING to buy in Kenya in 2019.  This illustrates where the smart money is being directed over the next 5 years, the developing markets, the next billion people to get smart phones.


My first book “Tell the Truth – honesty is your most powerful marketing tool” described the impact smart phones, social media and internet information is having on marketing and communications in the developed world.    This impact is still playing through and is the cause of the shattering of the traditional purchase funnel.


The next billion smart phones change markets worldwide.  Jimmy Wales remarked that the democratisation of easily accessible smart phones in the developing world may mean that the next time a crisis hits a country they might call asking for aid before we are able to send it to them.


Google’s Matt Brittin says that today’s pace of change is the slowest that it is ever going to be.  Google has launched its first Android One smartphone in India – a budget device aimed at enticing the “next billion” smartphone users in the country and other emerging markets.  At $100 it’s ten times the price of Wales’ phone of the future and some think the price will have to drop to succeed, though Google say they don’t want to be the cheapest phone in the market but the best quality value for money.


For global marketers the opportunity is clear.  Dan Chapman, MediaCom’s digital head calls the changes that the cheap smart phone bring “Demobracy”.  The phones don’t just bring marketers opportunities to sell stuff they bring the users information about product, authenticity, pricing and sourcing.


More markets are opening up.  At the same time the demands and expectations of customers are increasing too.  For media planning this means recognising a much more fluid and complicated path to purchase than the “purchase funnel” of the past.  It means building real time course correction into every plan.  And as markets open up it means understanding what brands represent in different markets worldwide and if they can be truly global successes.


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