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RE: MIDs, 3G, and mid/low socio-economic groups in Emerging Markets

From: Nadeem Akhtar <nadeem@cewit.org.in>
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 11:06:12 +0530
To: "'Joshua Saunders'" <Josh.Saunders@bbc.co.uk>, <public-mw4d@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004101c942f6$3f0dd930$bd298b90$@org.in>

Dear Joshua, all,

 Regarding your comments about 'fake' handsets, they can be found easily in
India as well. According to one report, almost a million such devices are
sold every month. However, after the recent serial blasts in many Indian
cities, the Govt. has now started cracking down on sellers of such devices
as some of these handsets have no IMEI, making tracking extremely difficult.


-----Original Message-----
From: public-mw4d-request@w3.org [mailto:public-mw4d-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Joshua Saunders
Sent: 07 November 2008 17:27
To: public-mw4d@w3.org
Subject: MIDs, 3G, and mid/low socio-economic groups in Emerging Markets

Dear MW4D Group, 

My job currently focuses on mLearning in an international development
context - so I've been watching the lively debates with interest.  This
is a great list-serve, and MW4D is a brilliant endeavour!

Ultimately, as everyone has been saying, cost is the number one barrier
(prohibitive handset cost, expensive data rates) to mid/low SEC (Socio
Economic Group) adoption of mobile web in emerging markets in (for
example) Africa, Asia, and South America.

Although there are encouraging signs with regard to rollout and take-up
of 2.5G+ connectivity, and low cost mobile internet handsets/MIDs, it is
only a "pioneering" or affluent market segment that will be able to get
these products and services, for several years to come.

This means . a "trickling" of MID and 2.5G+ availability in emerging
markets, won't mean "mass" adoption, as it's only market SEC A and B
that will be able to afford the MID devices and data connectivity.  And,
SEC A and B are groups that, to a certain extent, 'digital divide' (in
mass-reach, international development context) concerns are not
currently aiming at.  

Meaning.  SECs C, D (etc) in emerging markets will simply not be able to
get access to MIDs and cheap data rates til something like 2012 - 2015,
although there is much promising (and conflicting) market research and
growth projections in this area.

Until there are 'mass market' consumer price points for MIDs and data
tariffs in emerging markets, then the best "mass-aimed" (rather than
"specialist group" M-Learning) "Mobile for International Development"
technologies in the short term (2008 - 2012, approximately) would
continue to be SMS and IVR (Voice XML).  Initiatives such as the Spoken
Web and HSTP protocol look amazing too - very impressive and

Also, I have point, with regard to fake Chinese handsets in the Asian
market (not sure if this has been discussed on MW4D list before?)

In recent trips to Bangladesh, I was doing some informal research on the
grey/black market for handsets, in the many mobile handset retail
outlets in Dhaka.  There is a truly astonishing range of fake (or 'non
brand name' but 'mid spec') handsets out there, some with mobile
internet access.

Some of the fakes are quite poor, of course.but a few are 'good' fakes,
as it were.in terms of the way they function.  

Although, of course, if one has a fault and needs to invoke the warranty
... I imagine there's not much that can be done to rectify a fault with
an untrackable manufacturer source!

Anyway - just throwing this issue out there to this list.  (that of fake
mobile internet devices in emerging markets, that are MUCH cheaper than
the 'real thing') 

I'm not sure about the African/South American market, but it's clear
that the Asian market has a substantial amount of fake handsets, aimed
at - and seeminly being consumed by - SEC C and D.  So, it's important
to note this for anyone making/delivering apps, as the browsers/software
may behave erratically (or perhaps not, in some cases, where the fakes
are "good") for Wap sites (WML or XHTML), J2ME MID-P apps, etc.

As an example, Nokla (note the "L") handsets seem popular.and in self
reporting on focus groups, etc, it seems likely that some people may
mistakenly report owning a Nokia, where in fact, they have a fake Nokla,

One fake I saw out there that was pretty brazen - and used the same logo
font, etc, was a "Suny Ericssom"- more info here...


Ultimately, despite the quality issues and the fact it's an IP crime,
low income consumers who want a 'high end' looking phone, with mobile
internet.will I imagine be sorely tempted to pick up a cheap fake, over
the real thing.  For example, the fake Nokia N95's I saw looked
reasonably 'genuine', and are a fraction of the cost of the 'real

Cheers all, 

PS At the moment I'm wading through masses of bespoke commissioned,
detailed research on the Bangladeshi mobile market - hence I have a good
overview here.

Josh Saunders  - Senior Mobile Producer
BBC World Service Trust 

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8:23 PM
Received on Monday, 10 November 2008 05:36:22 UTC

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