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By Joanna Ptolomey


Mobile communication devices with access to online information and connection via social media platforms are drastically carving out new markets in countries with growing middle classes. Nielsen ( recently reported that the demand for mobile (cell) communication is following a less than predictable growth pattern with explosive demand in emerging economies. The growing middle classes are to be found in Russia, India, China and some of the N-11 (next 11 emerging countries) – this includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam). Growth in these countries and BRIC economies are expected to be higher compared to established markets over the next 3-5 years the report continues. If you are in marketing then it is clear that there will be greater opportunities for business in these emerging markets. But you will need to be clear about understanding the unique information needs and demands of different cultures. An understanding of how the mobile and Internet penetration market differ is also required. Mobile penetration is different to Internet. Why? Rising income levels follow an established pattern for Internet penetration – the Nielsen report quotes US $20,000 of per capita GDP to achieve a 50% penetration. Mobile penetration can exceed 100% because people may own multiple phone units. It also does not need the high per capita GDP – perhaps as low as US $5000. Mobile dominance in and the shaping of emerging markets is setting the scene for long term growth. But are we seeing ‘reverse innovation’ from trends in the mobile emerging markets that will filter back into the more established Internet markets? There do seem to be signs and, if anything, the demand seems to be growing exponentially. Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley seems to think that the mobile web will overtake the static web in the next 3-4 years. If you need further detailed analysis about Internet trends and forecasts (including mobile) then you should check out her presentation ( where she considers that the world ‘is increasingly in the palm of your hand’.


About this item:

Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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