Flavio Mansi Martí is the Senior Vice President and President of Qualcomm Latin America. He joined QUALCOMM, Inc. as the Vice President of the Business Development Unit for Mexico and Central America. Prior to joining Qualcomm he served as the General Manager of Corporación Nacional de Radiodeterminación, S.A. de C.V., a joint venture between QUALCOMM, Inc. and Grupo Pegaso, and provider of the satellite system OmniTRACS in Mexico, Central and South America. Previously, Mr Marti was theCorporate Manager of Grupo BIMBO. He began his career as the Executive Assistant to the President of Grupo DOMECQ. Flavio Mansi Martí has a bachelor’s degree with a major in International Affairs and Economy from the Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Mobile phones, ‘smartphones’ and ‘feature phones’ alike, have been getting smarter and more capable in response to consumer demand for interactivity as well as access to more sophisticated applications and content. The mobile phone is becoming the primary Internet connection for many and the only means to access the Internet for others. With the growing capabilities in the feature phone and the advances in smartphones, there is a smart solution for all market segments that will drive the consumer experience.
Nowadays, people want to do more with their phones than simply make calls and use other basic features. This trend represents enormous opportunities for operators, developers and the entire marketplace. A growing number of individuals are moving beyond phone-based browsing, and becoming content creators and distributors. Consumer and enterprise workers are seeing the value and feeling the power of an enhanced mobile broadband experience. Users are changing the way they use mobile phones; from social networks to business and productivity applications, and for every step during the day, pushing mobile phones to be more robust. In the last few years, phones have typically been categorized as either ‘smartphones’ or ‘feature phones’. A smartphone was defined as a handheld device that integrates mobile phone capabilities with the more common features of a handheld computer or PDA, allowing users to store information, email, and install programs and make phone calls using the same device. Today, the definition of a smartphone is changing. Industry analysts say what sets a smartphones apart is its operating system (OS) and the third-party applications it can run. The most common operating systems used by smartphones are Symbian, Web OS, Windows Mobile, RIM OS, Apple OS, Android and Linux mobile. Forrester Research sees the ability to access the Web and download applications, a large storage capacity and a QWERTY keyboard as other features, common to most smartphones. The smartphone is now being quickly embraced in the market, making a strong contribution to handset sales and spurring steady growth in data revenues. Of course device manufacturers have been crucial in the evolution of these smart gadgets, by recognizing the value of bringing Internet-capable mobile devices to market and by offering new features and innovative designs. Entertainment applications and game downloads have been among the most popular, and as this device segment continues to evolve, it is clear that one of the most valuable functions smartphones allow is efficient communication in multiple forms. This generates high data traffic and requires powerful and reliable 3G networks. Operators continuously need to optimise their networks to guarantee a seamless and exciting user experience, while looking for new revenue streams. It is interesting and exciting to see, that although smartphones are still at the high-end of the device price range, forecasts estimate that emerging markets will play an important role in the growth of the segment. According to Pyramid Research, emerging markets will become the leading growth engine for smartphone sales over the next five years. China will become the biggest smartphone market in 2010, and other key markets such as Brazil, India, Nigeria and Turkey will record compound annual growth rates above 30 per cent through 2014. Understanding local conditions will be vital for operators, smartphone vendors and applications developers. The worldwide penetration rate is likely to reach approximately 38 per cent by 2014 according to Informa. The same source estimates smartphone sales will represent 12 percent of the total Latin America market this year; by 2014 that number will increase to 31 per cent. This positive outlook for smartphones certainly is great news for the industry from all the different perspectives of the value chain, and it expands beyond the segment itself. There still is, and will continue to be, a large segment of the market that is price sensitive, but the fact that consumers opt for less expensive phones, doesn’t mean that they don’t have the expectations of having a smartphone-like experience with their feature phones. The success of the feature phone rests on its ability to match the smartphone feature for feature, without attaching a pricey data plan to the device. Feature phones still rule the market, even as smartphone sales continue to increase their share of overall handset sales. Feature phones accounted for the majority of shipments last year. The features that are becoming more common in the feature phone market are exactly the ones that are making smartphones popular. Feature phones have proprietary OS firmware and may support third-party software via platforms such as Java or Brew. These operating platforms enable a feature phone to run applications and let the consumer have a similar experience to using a smartphone. Brew MP is a flexible OS, offering feature-rich applications and services to the largest consumer segment of mass-market feature phones, turning mid-tier feature phones into mass-market smartphones. Emerging market operators are looking to deliver a smartphone-like experience at low cost. With increased functionality and advanced user interfaces, the feature phone is starting to resemble the smartphone. Operators are showing renewed interest in bringing more advanced mobile applications to the feature phone users that represent the overwhelming majority of their subscribers. They are making mobile applications easier to consume on the kind of feature phones that most mainstream users carry. According to Nielsen, Facebook, Google Maps and Weather Channel are the most popular applications for smartphones; while music applications and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn dominate feature phones. Games are the most downloaded on both smartphones and feature phones. These studies demonstrate that users are interested in a rich, full experience, downloading applications and interacting with their world wirelessly, regardless of the type of phone they have. Options are on the street - smartphones with applications are getting richer every day and feature phones with increasing performance and smartphone-like experience are growing in popularity. The choice is now up to consumers to pick the features and applications that bring the best ‘smart’ experience to their fingertips. With such advanced capabilities on mobile devices, the mobile phone is becoming the primary Internet connection for many and the only means to access the Internet for others, enabling access to information and connectivity in an entirely new way. With the growing capabilities in the feature phone and the advances in smartphones, there is a smart solution for all market segments that will drive the consumer experience.