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Emerging Markets

  • How vocal apps are reaching illiterate populations in emerging markets

    Illiteracy has been dramatically decreasing over the 20th century, but there still are large areas of the world where reading and writing skills are scarce, preventing further development, as well as basic communications between organisations and individuals. It's no surprise that emerging markets are places where illiteracy can still be high. In countries of Sub-Saharan Africa such as Chad or Mali, a small third of the population is able to read and write. In South Asia too, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh just over half of the populations are literate. Surprisingly, even in the US, a significant 14% of the...

  • Screw the robot apocalypse, our tech future is all about doing good

    After a 20-something-hour flight, I am about to face an immigration officer in the United States – not always the best experience. It's my turn and I edge forward. "What is the purpose of your visit?" he asks me. "I am here for Microsoft's Imagine Cup," I respond. "That's great," he exclaims (surprising). "Are you one of the students? What have you built? Will it change the world?" Unfortunately I had to inform him that I am not a developer genius about to change the world, but he's right, there are students from 34 countries here that are about to. Microsoft created the...

  • Here’s why you shouldn’t treat Naspers’ numbers as evidence of a tech bubble

    One of the most followed stories and right in the heart of the debate around tech bubbles and valuations (especially in the emerging markets space) is Naspers. The numbers it reported this morning are unlikely to change that, although the probably should. There are many segments of the market that have been telling everyone else, with a lot of energy, that you should not buy Naspers and that it is completely overvalued. From an earnings point of view, that is the case, BUT when you have a combination thereof (what the TenCent stake is worth) and what the earnings...

  • How Chinese tech companies are (finally) going global

    In light of the Alibaba IPO and the ecommerce giant’s plans to expand in the US, there’s a lot of talk on how Chinese tech companies are now finally ready to go global. I’d argue that the ambition to go abroad has always been strong for Chinese companies. Since China officially joined the WTO in 2000, its government has promoted the “Go Global” policy for its companies to expand the footprint and soft power of the country. It was just a matter of time. In the past decade, no country offered more opportunities for growth and development than China....

  • Think the iPhone is still just for developed markets? The BRICs would beg to differ

    There’s a great deal of focus on iPhone sales trends in North America and Europe, particularly from the tech blogger echo-chamber. That’s understandable, given that most of these writers and websites are based in the US, but increasingly the Apple iPhone is becoming an emerging market story. In the most recent (second) quarter, Apple reported a “new all-time record for total iPhone sales in the BRIC countries”. Bloomberg suggests that in the overall smartphone market, the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) account for more sales than all other emerging markets combined. Or, in fact, developed markets. That’s...

  • 5 Chinese online trends every developer needs to know about

    With 1.3 billion people supporting a booming mobile and software development industry, China is the blue whale of emerging tech markets. China will be the No. 1 market for Apple moving forward, but everyone in the mobile sector needs to think about how to develop for China’s market and work with Chinese developers, who have a much better understanding of the culture than we do. With its recent deal to sell the iPhone on China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier, Apple, looks to move an additional 20 to 40 million devices. Currently, China’s mobile market is dominated by Android...

  • Life after Koos Bekker: where to next for Naspers?

    There’s a quote from outgoing Naspers chief executive Koos Bekker buried right at the end of Sunday’s City Press article that tells you an awful lot about the man. In a note to staff, (as the newspaper points out) his humility is stark: “We screwed up frequently, but we had a great deal of fun and I couldn’t imagine another job that would have fitted my limited talents better, that would have given me more pleasure.” Bekker is acutely aware of his limitations. Perhaps that’s why he’s decided to step down now? But it hasn’t been the smoothest and most...

  • Battling WhatsApp in India, messaging app Hike grows to 15 million users

    There’s even more focus on messaging apps after Facebook’s buy-out of WhatsApp. The acquisition has also highlighted the many strong alternatives that there are to WhatsApp, especially across Asia, such as Line, Viber, KakaoTalk, and WeChat, who collectively have over a billion registered users. Some Asian nations have homegrown challengers as well. In India there’s Hike app. It launched in September 2012. Kavin Mittal, from the Bharti Softbank incubator that runs Hike, tells us that Hike has now grown to 15 million registered users. Mittal says that number has grown by a factor of three in the past nine months. Right...

  • How Chinese New Year changed how people use their mobiles

    Everything’s getting back to normal in China as the New Year festivities dwindle to a halt. The daily lives of Chinese people dramatically break from the norm for at least a solid two weeks during the holiday, and how this affects mobile usage can give developers and advertisers key insights into opportunities that only present themselves once per year. Mobile ad company AppFlood provided us with some data to give us an idea of how Chinese people use their Android smartphones differently just before and during the country’s biggest holiday and migratory movement. Between January 16 and February 6 –...

  • MTN’s $50 Steppa smartphone changes (almost) everything

    It’s been astonishing to see how quickly mobile operator MTN’s Steppa smartphone has been written off, when the devices have hardly made it to retail stores. This is a sub-$50 smartphone. A phone that retails for R499. By comparison, the BlackBerry Curve, a phone that South Africa was (and still is) addicted to, sells for closer to four times as much. The newer 9320 (which has 3G) sells for a little more, while the original 8520 – the most popular phone in South Africa at one stage – sold for a little bit less. By comparison, Nokia’s entry-level Asha 210 device retails...

  • India’s massive online population keeps growing, looks set to hit 243-million

    Cheaper internet plans and devices made 2013 a catalyst year in terms of increasing internet penetration and number of web users in India. Internet users exhibited a year on year growth of 39% in 2013, whereas in 2012 it was 28%. This growth has resulted in substantial boost in various other digital industries such as e-commerce and digital advertising as well. Northward trend According to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of web users in India is expected to hit 243-million by June 2014. Out of the vast number, 192-million users are expected to...

  • China’s massive internet numbers: 618m online, 500m connected to mobile web

    China now has 618-million internet users and 500 million mobile web users, according to new figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). The new numbers from CNNIC are for December 2013. They show strong growth from the agency’s last report midway through 2013 when we saw that China had 591-million internet users and 460-million mobile netizens. The number of mobile web users has more than doubled from the end of 2009 when there were only 233 million accessing the web via phones. China’s smartphone boom -- there are about 270-million active Android users in the country right now –...

  • Underestimating how technology has changed education in Africa is a serious mistake

    As technology evolves, it continues to enrich lives all over the world. This is especially true in Africa, which has risen to the top of the online e-leaning adopters. The growth rate of e-learning for the continent is 15.2%, with Senegal the highest at 30.4%. This rapid adoption of high-tech educational options is positively affecting the future outlook of the continent. Improvements are being seen across major fronts including poverty reduction, women's equality and health. Reduce Poverty With the installation of fiber optic cable in many African nations, the ability for the population to access college online has opened doors that...

  • 8 Chinese tech trends to keep an eye on in 2014

    The new year is a time for reflection, but it’s also a time for looking forward. In this regard, we’ve taken a broad look at some of the budding trends we expect to continue in China in 2014. In an ecosystem growing as fast as China’s tech scene, anything is possible within a year, but here’s a few predictions we think will change the country’s landscape. Weibo will go out of style Weibo was still growing as of Q3 2013, and revenues were up, but we still predict the service’s popularity will taper off. Many reasons factor into this. WeChat has...

  • Smartphones and emerging markets: where we’re headed in 2014

    There are few emerging market countries that are particularly mature in terms of their cellphone and smartphone usage and buying patterns (China, in particular stands out); but there is a large contingent of emerging markets who are not as mature in this regard. What are some of the factors that have held back smartphone adoption in these markets and further to that; what is being done to accelerate the adoption rates? In 2008; smartphone sales accounted for just nine percent of all phone sales in China. In 2012; that number skyrocketed to 59% of all phones being sold in China...