Data cost hurts smartphone adoption

2012-03-14 22:39

Cape Town - Cost remains a significant impediment to the mass adoption of smartphones, particularly for users in developing countries, hardware manufacturers have said.

"We've been working on it with the operators, pretty much globally and we've started to see some operators launching an Android data package where they give you significant data to access your Gmail or Facebook. Even in South Africa right now, MTN and Vodacom have just launched a new data package for prepaid," Raed Hafez, Motorola managing director for the Middle East and Africa told News24.

Research In Motion enjoys a dominant position in SA because of its unlimited data package offered with BlackBerry smartphones because South African users are cost-conscience.

Hafez acknowledged the RIM proposition, but said that operators are intent on moving away from such packages.

"The unlimited data which BlackBerry has is also causing some pressures on the operators' profitability. We're seeing them shying away from that and even looking to increase the mix of other devices in their portfolio."

Data-hungry smartphones

Sony Ericsson hinted that South Africans would move away from BlackBerry devices as has been the case in the US and other developed markets.

"The BlackBerry phenomenon is literally a phenomenon in South Africa and the Middle East where BlackBerry enjoys such a very healthy market share," Sony Ericsson Southern Africa marketing manager Colin Williamson told News24.

Nokia has also identified cost as a significant factor for adoption of data-hungry smartphones and built streamlined browsing into their new Lumia smartphone.

"We've got some really great initiatives in terms of the Nokia browser which comes standard on these devices. It's a proxy-based service where it compresses data by up to 90%. The push e-mail that we use where you can set up to 10 accounts: That e-mail is also compressed," said Patrick Henchie, Nokia head of product for South and East Africa.

Smartphone running Android requires an always-connected data connection and even though it can be switched off, it reduces the user's experience of the device.

Samsung said that cost was an important factor for South African consumers as it would have implications for the broader market.

"I think it's in everybody's best interest that data prices come down; that the consumer benefits from this," said Samsung spokesperson Paulo Ferreira.

Unlimited plan

"It is important to have an affordable data plan that allows the consumer to enjoy the ecosystem and capabilities of the device without having to worry about their pocket book all the time.

"Whether it's going to be unlimited or what we're seeing in the US where operators are starting to stop the unlimited plan - even for BlackBerrys, that remains to be seen."

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  • Corne Steyn - 2012-03-15 07:02

    I thought the United Nations just recently declared interwebs to be a "human right". Shouldn't humans rights be free of charge?

  • Hermann Jnr Husselmann - 2012-03-15 09:05

    Vodacom is loosing a lot of money and prospects because of the high data cost when i look at sales Blackberry dominates the market, where Vodacom sales in other devices such as Nokia, samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and other mobile devices sales has drop allot althought where the adroind devices is better devices. so Vodacom should look in that matter because in the long run vodacom is going to lose a lot of money.

  • Didi Schoeman - 2012-03-15 09:35

    The new data packages offered by the likes of MTN and Nashua mobile is a farce... MTN is capped at 75Mb after which you pay 50c a Mb and Nashua throttles you to a snails pace after 100Mb with no streaming services such as YouTube and Skype allowed... Dailight Robbery!!! With cloud based computing being the future we are pretty screwed here in SA with our ridiculously high data cost on both fixed and mobile networks... It leaves us with a serious disadvantage in a Global Market...

  • Deon - 2012-03-15 10:05

    Some smarphones are really smart. I had to look up in the manual where to switch it on.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-03-15 11:29

    All other phones need to jump on the Blackberry bandwagon... I will never own another phone but a blackberry...And even people I know with Iphones have moved to Blackberry because its cheaper and even with a few minor issues they have had they are more reliable for todays world than any other phone. If Motorolla, Nokia, Samsung and whatever the other brands are, want to compete they need to come up with a functionallity like BIS for their phone. Which the Networks all over can support. Blackberry is the success that it is because its taken ownership of its device and its means to work...

      shiv179 - 2012-03-15 12:03

      BlackBerry can't even be called a smartphone! BlackBerry devices are reliable? What a joke. I have heard from IT admins how rubbish and slow BB OS is, endless hassles. My boss's BB crashed and rebooted in front of me, while he was unplugging the USB cable. BB is a fad in SA simply because of BBM. People in SA are slowly realizing what a con BB is. It is dying worldwide, at an alarming rate. I hope they die in a few years, it sure is heading that way.

      Tyron - 2012-03-15 12:25

      BB is only a success in SA and Middle East, the rest of the world BB is in decline. The reason is that data in developed markets is cheap, so paying R60 a month for data will be more than sufficient in the rest of the world for most users. Here in SA, R60 get's you nowhere other than BB. But... BB is "unlimited" in a very limited sense, your download speeds are poor. It is cost effective for now, but u will miss the boat. The BB handsets are shocking compared to true smartphones (S2, HTC, Ihpone).

      E=MC2 - 2012-05-29 15:10

      BIS is the only reason i currently have a BB... Tyron, my download speeds are far from slow, & getting a higher spec, more expensive phone simply because it "isnt a BB" is pretty dumb. I browse & download a lot & would look at a data bill of R700 upwards if i had to move to a normal data bill... Say what you like, its actually the iPhone & Samsung users that are the "clicky" ones, not the BB users...we're happy to stick with a cost effective smartphone, even though its maybe a slightly lower spec... Shiv, really dude. have you ever actually had a BB or just going by what everyone else says (which supports my comment above about who the clicky ones are...)

  • Johan - 2012-03-15 17:24

    shiv179 - "I hope they die in a few years" - and why would you hope that? Do you feel threatened by BB? If you do not like it, just keep quiet! (Most of the rave about iPhone and Android is about the apps - which in most instances is aimed at kids. Are you a kid?)

      E=MC2 - 2012-05-29 15:12

      cos he's actually just on a rant... never owned a BB but nothing good to say about it because of what "others" have told him.

  • Reenen Stenekamp - 2012-03-20 10:46

    I love my BlackBerry. All this yadda yadda talk talk has become boring ages ago. BlackBerry will just go from strength to strength. Deal with it.

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