Jamaica’s Mobile Penetration at 110% why aren’t we demoing more apps

Mobile subscribers jumped to nearly 2.97 million up to March 2010 representing a 9.3 per cent rise year on year, according to just released data from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR). Jamaica’s population is about 2.7 million. In my opinion This is an excellent opportunity for local developers to see opportunities to solve problem, bridge some gaps in service in the market, by build apps and test them in this market, then take it regional and global. I keep hearing about apps, but we need to see them in the market, being used, launched, being scaled.

  • Fast forward to the year 2011. I believe that the issue of a cultural change in phone usage whether Smart or Feature phones, will depend on what is really available. That is to say, is there really anything of benefit to the consumer. If there is then they will move towards it. I recently invested in a platform that enables easy mobile web creation mobile advertising and still offers desktop access. It will take time but i think as we see more persons adopting mobile to access the internet there will be growth.

  • I hear you….well nothing can be critical mass in a population of 2.7 million …would clearly have to be lucrative niche or daily necessary use like credit/more minutes to make a mobile venture profitable. That said, my point is that there are many opportunities in mobile. When smartphones get cheaper and more ubiquitous within the next year- as with anything else…it will take marketing communications and other ways to show and tell about the uses, benefits to the consumers.

  • Aside from not enough smartphones on Postpaid plans locally to achieve critical mass for anyone making an app to be profitable, there is also the culture of Jamaican as it relates to smartphones.

    They see them as “bling”, not as work tools. Thus the point of buying apps is lost on most users, who may not be in possession of a credit card!

    Even i see them as Elitist and snobs, especially BB owners who are under the mistaken belief that these phone are indeed “smart. This when in fact the BB represents a technology now almost three decades (30 years)old.

    We Jamaicans are JUST catching the BB wave.

    Jamaican Developers for iOS and Android are thus stuck writing apps for a Developed World market with an appetite and the spending power of plastic. Meanwhile, Jamaican attitudes to technology remain, as culturally we desire their tech toys but have little understanding of why we would even want to use them a our american counterparts do!!!

    so even if smartphone penetration and Postpaid ownership wee to increase overnight, we still face a cultural battle to convince people to spend an average of US$1 for an app that may do nothing more than fart of blurb at best or at worst, make us addicted to a device that by then, would be obsolete like the BB, as the Americans get bored with the technology and move on to something else…….

  • David Mullings

    Wish we had solid numbers indeed.

    As for Focusing on regular phones, yes that market will continue to huge, especially in developing countries, giving Caribbean developers potential markets outside. I don’t know enough about building apps for regular phones though so I can’t say why the lack of focus. Maybe you can interview some devs and write a post.

  • Regarding the #of smart phones in the Jamaican market. The only solid # I heard was from the CEO himself who said it was about 30% of the total about of Digicel’s subscribers that has smartphones that translates into 360,000 smart phones on that network. I have not heard of any official numbers form LIME or CLaro.
    One of my points is that we have such a strong affinity to the mobile phones there our interest as to how that culture of usage and knowledge of how they work and don’t in our everyday lives, can be converted into solving problems not just for the local market put for the regional and global market. And we can’t be thinkiing solely of smartphone users even as they said smartphones globally and by extension regionally and locally will increase significantly and outpace just regular SMS phones why? It’ll be cheaper especially from companies like Samsung and other Android loving brands.

  • David Mullings

    Most of the mobile phone penetration in Jamaica is for feature phones, not smartphones. In fact, the last time I asked Digicel, they said only around 5% of the phones on their network were smartphones.

    5% of 3 million is still 150,000 smartphones, most of which are BlackBerry, so io do agree there is a sizable addressable market for apps but maybe local developers assume the costs are prohibitive or maybe they notice how many BlackBerry owners don’t have Internet service with their phone, thus reducing the size of the market for apps.

    What I don’t understand is how come we don’t have more mobile sites fo local entities. Even most feature phones can go on the web today.

  • I agree. But the question is how many of those phones are smartphones.
    i.e. Blackberry, Andriod or IPhone.