At least two companies looking to loosen Apple and Android’s stranglehold over the current smartphone market believe their best chances are in emerging markets, where they can make up ground by providing low-cost yet high-performing devices for the masses.
both Jolla, which recently announced it was using Nokia’s abandoned MeeGo platform
to launch a serious contestant in the smartphone arena, and Mozilla, which just launched its Firefox OS
HTML 5-based open source smartphone OS, say getting a toehold in emerging markets is a key first step. Once they gain some market share in regions like China and Brazil, where they believe Android and iOS currently don’t serve the population well, they can use the proceeds to further R&D and then make a serious run at the developed world—and at least a No. 3 spot in the smartphone arena.
Yankee Group Senior Analyst Boris Metodiev comments
“Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy range of phones have already firmly established themselves at the high-end of the smartphone market, but the low-end prize is still up for grabs. Although there are many competitors, there is no one definitive winner. Smartphone penetration by population in Latin America and Asia-Pacific is 7 percent and 8 percent respectively, compared to 42 percent and 39 percent in Western Europe and North America. The need for cheaper and better value-for-the-money smartphones is obvious in regions like Latin America and Asia-Pacific, where many people would struggle to afford more famous (meaning expensive) smartphone models.
“It is no surprise Telefonica is involved in the development of the Firefox OS in partnership with Mozilla, considering its position and interest in the Latin American market. The company already announced that sometime in 2013 it will launch its first Firefox OS phone in Brazil at a sub-U.S.$100 price. With about 4 billion people in Latin America and Asia-Pacific just waiting to be hooked to the smartphone experience, whoever manages to establish itself in these huge markets will not only be a contender for the No. 3 spot, but may also challenge for the gold medal.”