With more than one billion users accessing the Internet on mobile devices worldwide, both phone manufacturers and app developers have begun asking themselves the question, ‘Where will the next billion come from?’ The answer can be found in emerging markets like South and Central America, Asia-Pacific and Africa. It’s estimated that of the projected 8.2 billion mobile connections in 2017, 61% of new growth will be from the Asia-Pacific region alone. One developer, Blue Lion Mobile, has already started tapping into these emerging markets with its Java-based app, Qeep, a social gaming entertainment application where millions of users from across the globe play games, chat, send pictures, make friends and more via their feature phones.
Emerging markets often lack the infrastructure to support smartphone usage on a wide scale, which is why Blue Lion Mobile believes Nokia’s Java-based Asha platform, with its smart phone-like user experience, is ideal for connecting with the next billion mobile users, who will most likely be using feature phones. In fact, in Q1 of this year 48.4% of total mobile shipments were feature phones – nearly half the mobile market!
“Offering a rich user experience is very important to a social application like Qeep,” said Christian Schulte, CEO, Blue Lion Mobile. “Within the Asha development framework, it was very easy for us to access a variety of APIs for gesture navigation, camera APIs and Map APIs. From a developer perspective, it gives you a flexibility you normally only find in a smart phone environment.”
Right now, Qeep has more than 20 million users worldwide and adds 20,000 new users every day while serving 1.7 billion mobile page views every month to 200 countries.
Regionally, growth in Latin America has been especially strong. Qeep’s monthly user growth in South America is approximately 14%, with 160% user growth during the past twelve months within the region. More than 50% of users in Brazil and Mexico say they are planning to use more apps in the future, with 60% of users in Brazil saying they would spend up to $5 every month on mobile apps and 14% saying they would pay $10 or more every month. Comparatively, growth rates in developed regions, like Europe, are approximately 5%.
The support of Nokia’s developer experience team is a key ingredient in Qeep’s recipe for growth in these developing markets. Blue Lion Mobile leverages Nokia in several ways:
- Working with Nokia’s local offices to check and approve language translations for optimal localization.
- Leveraging localized Nokia Store marketing and promotional support for rapid user acquisition.
- Access to the Nokia developer team via email, phone and in-person to provide guidance.
- Access to the free Nokia emulator for troubleshooting coding errors.
- Access to numerous testing devices, even those not yet in the market, to ensure an optimized app experience on every new Nokia device.
As for the future, the company is working with Nokia on continuing its growth in these emerging markets.
“From a developer’s perspective, Asha devices, and especially the Asha 501, are extremely interesting,” said Schulte. “Because it gives, at a very low price point, a smartphone-like user experience to a lot of users and, for us, it’s the right platform to connect to the next billion (users).”
To find out more about opportunities in emerging markets, take a look at Nokia’s Insights & Masterclasses “The Next Billion Mobile Users: Which Apps Will Matter?”