Top 10 Predictions for the North African Wireless and Telecom Markets in 2010
The telecommunications and wireless sectors have been bright spots in North African economies and likely to continue to grow. The success of these sectors comes from a wide consumer adoption first of basic mobile phone services, in particular voice, at very affordable prices, then expanding into new services from SMS texting to ring tones. In this paper, Julien Blin, the North Africa Journal’s technology editor and CEO of JBB Research predicts what is to come in Africa’s wireless and telecom markets this year. (copyright JBB Research: http://www.jbbresearch.com)
1. Mobile entertainment services set to remain North African carriers’ top priority to offset the continued decline of their total ARPU. In 2009, many North African carriers experienced a decline of their total ARPU due to increase pricing war. I expect this trend to continue. Thus, African carriers will continue to focus on mobile data services to offset the decline of their total ARPU.
2. 2010 set to be a critical year for Mobile advertising space in North Africa. As mobile web and mobile payment continue to gain traction in North Africa, 2010 should see the emergence of innovative mobile advertising concepts in North Africa. I expect to see more North African carriers focusing on mobile advertising concepts going beyond traditional SMS-based campaigns. WAP banner ads, MMS-based campaigns and ad-funded or ad-supported services/content embedded with value-added features/capabilities like mobile LBS, commerce, (e.g. mobile coupons), widgets, social networking, will start to gain traction in 2010.
3. Scheduled rollout of first LTE networks in Africa in 2010 set to improve user experience and drive mobile entertainment content/service adoption. As African carriers continue to upgrade their network to 4G technologies (e.g. WiMAX, LTE), users will be able to enjoy a better user experience while using mobile entertainment services as those services will run on faster networks like LTE or WiMAX. African carriers in countries like Libya are scheduled to start rolling out their LTE network in 2010. This should help further drive mobile entertainment services usage in North Africa.
4. Various 4G strategies likely to emerge in 2010. While LTE is set to be the flavor of choice for many carriers at the world level, this might be a different story in Africa. Some North African carriers will decide to focus primarily on WiMAX or LTE while others will choose a dual approach (WiMAX-LTE).
5. Improving billing mechanisms and content delivery set to be a top priority for North African carriers in 2010. In 2010, more North African carriers will start forging strategic partnerships with third party companies specialized in billing mechanism and content delivery. By doing so, carriers will be able to do a better job at differentiating their mobile content products and services, and delivery mechanisms, instead of simply differentiating themselves on pricing and voice quality. That being said, improving customer care, while preventing revenue leakage issues, and adopting more robust mobile entertainment platforms, will remain some of North African carriers’ top priorities.
6. Mobile blogging/mobile social networking set to become a key theme among North African carriers in 2010. As camera phones continue to gain significant traction in North Africa, I expect simple and enhanced chat services, mobile blogging applications, and picture uploading services to experience one of the fastest adoption growths in the North African mobile entertainment services/content market.
7. Local content, another key priority for North African carriers to attract new customers and drive mobile entertainment adoption. While voice services are set to remain the key purchasing factor, and “king” for most carriers, in 2010, North African carriers and application developers will start to provide more local content. To do so, I expect to see more North African carriers partnering with local content and mobile app providers.
8. Mobile payment services set to become more affordable and capable, embedded with new add value features. I expect to see the emergence of more affordable and capable mobile payment services in North Africa. In 2010, I also expect to see more African carriers offering mobile payment services, which can work across various carriers and countries, and allow customers to make international money transfers. Nokia’s scheduled entry in the African mobile payment market in 2010 is set to play a key role here. Lastly, I expect to see more carriers in the North African regions jumping on the mobile payment bandwagon, which should help North Africa catch up with other African regions in
the mobile payment space.
9. Feature phones set to become more capable. In 2010, I expect feature phones to become more capable, embedded with better picture/video recording and uploading, and Bluetooth capabilities, and full browsing technologies based on commercial web browsers from Opera. This should help further drive the mobile web adoption in North Africa. Ultimately, it will also help further drive the adoption of web-based mobile entertainment services (e.g. mobile blogging).
10. 3G Smartphones and services set to become more affordable. I expect to see the emergence of more affordable 3G services and devices (BlackBerry devices, iPhone 3G, Android devices, etc) in North Africa. As a result, this should help drive the adoption of mobile entertainment services/content in North Africa.
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