Developed nations such as the U.S., Japan and the UK are driving mobile data demand, but emerging markets aren’t far behind when it comes to mobile data service revenues. A new report from Informa Telecoms & Media suggests that by 2014, 36 percent of global mobile data revenues will come from nations like Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Poland and the Ukraine — areas that, as compared to countries with national network coverage, lag in terms of 3G and 4G infrastructure.
Without advanced network capabilities in a majority of areas, Informa says that consumers in emerging markets are heavily dependent on 2G services. Although a typical 3G data user might be loathe to consider services on a slower network, in this day of connected services — think email, social networks, weather reports and texting — slow connectivity is better than no connectivity, and service providers know that. And in areas with limited connectivity, even a slow Internet pipe can greatly influence day-to-day activities, such as farming and commerce, in remote areas, says Informa:
Mobile operators and service providers in emerging markets have, in many respects, been more innovative and proactive in developing and deploying new mobile VAS than their counterparts in the developed world. In particular, operators are seeing strong uptake of utility-type services including mobile payments, P2P funds transfer and agricultural information services.
Overall, Informa estimates the mobile data services market will grow from $200 billion in 2009 to $340 billion in 2014. Such growth in areas where a 2G signal is standard gives hope to a company like Nokia, who focuses such services on emerging areas. Since bandwidth is limited or priced at a premium, optimizing something as simple as a weather report over SMS could provide farmers in a 2G area with timely information needed to maximize their harvest, for example. But don’t count out the app stores just yet — once 3G arrives in the current 2G nations, consumers are expected to spend even more, as the Middle East and Africa could overtake North America’s app store revenues by 2012.
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