Smart Phones hit T&T– More opportunity for development?

bmobile logos

Things were rather slow in the telecoms space here for quite some time, but I must give credit to the government and various businesses in the region for getting the industry going as quickly as they have. I’m not sure whether the primary catalyst was competition, government regulation or business innovation, but things certainly have gotten a whole lot better.

It would be remiss of me to not give a shout-out to FLOW (Columbus Communications) whose introduction into the market absolutely transformed the cable television and internet broadband market. This certainly caused the competition to (or at least attempt to) dismantle its monopolistic mind-set, but let’s get back to the point of this post…

I have been waiting for the introduction of smart (or at least smarter) phones into the Trinidad & Tobago mobile market for a long time. I wrote an unfinished blog post some time ago about what, in my opinion, would be required for smart phones to really take flight here in T&T. These were –

  1. Clear roadmap for mobile broadband
  2. Carriers aggressive pursuit of partnerships with smart phone manufactures
  3. Availability of locally relevant content
  4. A more robust mobile infrastructure
  5. Communication of a vision driven my research into emerging technology and shaped by customer needs

It seems as though at least some of these requirements have been met in the Trinidad market by at least one carrier. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m not paying attention, but I don’t see any response from Digicel to the “Smart Phone Push” that we’re seeing from bmobile. I do believe that a response from Digicel in the smart phone arena would be beneficial to the consumers.

bmobile seems to be hitting the market pretty hard with a slew of smart phones and some ‘interesting’ pricing plans to go along with them, but, I’m not sure that they’re actually hitting the right balance between price and value. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a couple of weeks, maybe a lot more, but since then I’ve seen TSTT reduce the price of their iPhone offering quite a bit. A tweet from our friends over at TriniBerry.com highlights the concern –

TriniBerry.com

@TriniBerryTriniBerry.com

Is the iPhone 4 not selling well enough in #trinidad? thats a big price drop! http://fb.me/1cT9o033t

What do you guys think?

I think it has gotten to the point where they are offering the device for free now. I must admit that their pricing scheme was totally crazy to begin with, but to be fair, I also thought that Trini’s would be willing to foot the bill for a “smarter” mobile experience …

Getting back to the focus of this blog post now… Is this yet another opportunity for local and regional software engineers to start building mobile applications that are more relevant to our locale than the apps found in the respective Android, Apple and Blackberry marketplaces? I certainly think so.

If you were to head over to alexa.com and take a look at the most visited sites from Trinidad and Tobago, you’d find that some of the most popular sites visited include Facebook, Google, Youtube, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Wikipedia, Blogger, MSN, Trinidad Express, twitter, etc. (visit the link above to see the complete list). Our local newspapers are in the top 15 (if you exclude the Google duplicate .tt vs .com in the list). In my opinion, this alludes greatly to my point that there is a market for local content, be it news or otherwise (trinituner is at ~ #22).

Reports from the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) showed Mobile voice subscriptions with mobile internet service has grown by 72% from June 2009 to June 2010. I just checked out the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago site and found that the 2011 report has been posted.

image

You can find these reports @ http://www.tatt.org.tt/

The Q1 2011 report shows an overall increase of 29% in mobile internet subscriptions from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. This is pretty aggressive growth – developers and businesses should take note.

Does this indicate an opportunity to target the mobile (web or native) market? I most certainly think it does. There are some companies doing pretty well in this space, most notably TriniBerry. With such a creative and talented resource pool in Trinidad, I think it’s high time to take full advantage of this opportunity.

 

Looking forward to your interesting feedback.

Cheers.

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Posted in National & Regional Development, Random Thoughts

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