September 22, 2008

Not everyone is going 3G

For the past week I've been having fun with my new BlackBerry phone, which is pretty much an extension of my life. I couldn't live without instant access to corporate e-mail, to my private gmail account, being able to blog on-the-go, taking a picture of a product I just saw on a trip or googling anything that comes to mind while waiting for plane. On the other hand, with the amazing rise of lower-income consumers in emerging markets, like Brazil (which now has over 110 million mobile users), there has to be a great market for a very low-cost handset. I was happy to read that an operator from India called Spice is coming out with a $20 mobile phone, which is... well, just a phone. Although 3G capability is where the market is heading, for thousands of small business owners in Karachi or cab drivers in Manaus, having basic access to a mobile phone service means staying in business. It will be interesting to see how, while technology provides means for various categories to go high-end, there will always be opportunities for simple hassle-free products and services for a fast-growing lower-middle class in emerging markets.

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