This is why mobile networks are trying to put a smartphone in your hand

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Mobile industry watchers have known and preached for years that the smartphone is the future of mobile. While feature phones still sell a lot in certain markets, you must have observed how hard mobile operators push for greater smartphone adoption on their networks. It isn’t just because smartphones are sexier or cooler or more expensive. It is about revenue for the operators.

Operators around the world are witnessing huge drops in revenue from voice calls and consumer SMS. Users globally are shifting from voice to data. That is where the money is really growing. While from the standpoint of budget-conscious users, feature phones make more sense, it is the opposite for the networks. Feature phones may be good at helping the user keep data costs down, the networks need more people to use more data – and that is something that modern smartphones are good for.

Have you noticed how alarmed people get when they buy and use their first smartphone for a month? Their data spending suddenly jumps! They rant and howl and may even curse. But guess what? They settle down eventually and just spend the extra money. They get sucked into the data Matrix.

This is why you see networks get in partnerships with manufacturers to produce low-cost smartphones and even to offer higher end ones at subsidized prices. Sometimes, they bundle promo data with phones too. You see, the more active smartphones there are on their networks, the better for the bottomline of mobile operators. That is just the way it works, and there isn’t anything anyone can do to stop the tide. Everything in the mobile universe is conspiring to put a smartphone in your hands. Everything and everyone – operators, manufacturers, developers, bloggers, everyone.

If you are not already using one, sooner or later, you will own and use a smartphone. Resistance is futile.


  1. My situation is actually quite different.

    The adoption of a SmartPhone has driven down my telecommunications costs radically because data is comparatively cheaper as a means of communication.

    If you are the garrulous type, you can easily blow through N3.000 / month worth of credit on calls. .But by resorting to the use of data on the smartphone via IMs, emails, voIP and such, it would be truly hard to spend that much on communication.

    Also, if you are not a data vampire, apps like Opera Mini, UCWeb and Opera Max make it practical to keep costs truly low..

    With more people going online, its easier (and cheaper!) to keep in touch with contacts without resorting to voice calls..

    I therefore would imagine that the networks are probably actually making less money than beforr, by pushing for greater data. adoption.

  2. EyebeeKay,

    You are getting the sequence wrong. People are moving away from voice anyway, whether feature phone or smartphone. People on feature phones use WhatsApp, Twitter, Faceboook, 2Go and all; don’t they?

    But smartphones use more data than feature phones. Since the networks cannot fight the data trend, a push for greater smartphone use is the next best thing.

  3. ” This is why you see networks get in partnerships with
    manufacturers to produce low-cost smartphones and even to
    offer higher end ones at subsidized prices
    . Sometimes, they
    bundle promo data with phones too…. ”

    High end devices at subsidized prices? In which country? Devices are far more expensive from the stables of our network providers

  4. IMO, Nigerian networks are just beginning to get this viz a viz MTN pushing its own brand of smartphones…

    We also see increased efforts by local NetOps to release pocket-friendly data packages…this wasn’t the case a coupla years ago when feature phones outsold smartphones though mobile use had increased.

    I dare to predict the following to happen in the local market in the next few months: more affordable and flexible data plans and increased market entry of less expensive smartphones. Oh wait! It’s already here…

  5. In the US, for example. Haven’t you heard statements like “the iPhone 6 will sell for $349 on contract (Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T) and $599 off-contract”?

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