Friday, March 15, 2013

Future of Mobile Landscape in the GCC



Gulf Cooperative Council or GCC with its high mobile and internet penetration, is on the verge of experiencing a mass scale digital revolution. A part of it could be explained from the fact that these countries enjoy high per capita income coupled with a population skewed heavily towards the younger demographics. This interesting proposition of GCC has propelled us at Mixilion to think, how the landscape of mobile in the region look in the near future? After some brainstorming our team of analysts has figured out few of the following dimensions which may play a crucial role in defining the future of mobile landscape in the GCC.

·         Mobile Internet- Mobile internet will play a crucial role in the GCC. The growth in mobile internet consumption will be driven by rapid rise in smart phones, tablets and other hand held device penetration. In UAE alone the overall smart phone penetration stands high at 47 percent and is further expected to reach 80 percent by 2016. Similar high penetration exists in other GCC countries as well. For instance in Qatar and Saudi Arabia the overall smart phone penetration is estimated to be around 75 percent and 54 percent respectively. (This should further expand, pertaining to higher income and younger demographics). Internet consumption on mobile devices is surely going to zoom in the coming time. Coming to the nature of consumption, social media, communication, application download and advertisements could have prominent roles to play.  

·         Mobile Applications- A higher mobile internet consumption will eventually give rise to higher mobile applications usage. According to a research conducted by Real Opinion, a Dubai based research agency, on an average 6 mobile applications are downloaded every month by a present smart phone user in the Middle East region. (The figure should ideally be higher for GCC). This is will grow further, driven by rising penchant for smart phones. Coming to the categories of applications, besides communication application other popular applications will emanate from the domain of social networking, travel, business, banking, finance and maps and navigation etc. Not to mention religion, music and video. In the paid category, convenience, banking, finance and communication applications could be the leaders.

·         Arabic Content – In spite of the fact that Arabic is spoken throughout the GCC as well as Middle East region, there is dearth of good quality digital content in the language. This compels individuals to opt for contents in English, French and other non Arabic languages. However as the mobile landscape is evolving very fast in the region with penetration skyrocketing in the recent time; mobile companies have started taking development of good quality Arabic contents high up on their agenda. More and more telecom companies and mobile media and technology companies are working towards developing good quality Arabic contents. In the near future Arabic should constitute a substantial part of the overall mobile contents in the GCC.

·         Security: Increase in mobile penetration will call on telecom operators as well as media agencies to ensure better security measures. Both individuals as well as enterprises need to be insulated from the ever increasing threat of mobile viruses. A mobile virus may result in unauthorized SMS, calls and loss of data creating serious trouble for organizations and individuals. Hence security is one dimension which will seek a lot of attention from everyone in the mobile ecosystem- operators, regulators, technology firms and consultancies.                

          The article was originally published in Mixilion, MENA’s 1st crowdsourcing platform.

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