Friday, November 15, 2013

Smartphone and Feature Phone Market Research

Software developers need to do some rudimentary market research when deciding which desktop/laptop, tablet, or phone platform to select for their next application development project. Some interesting data points were included in a recent issue of Processor magazine. A recent Nielsen report revealed the percentages of people in various countries that use smartphones versus feature phones.

Nielsen defines feature phones as mobile phones that have functions similar to those found in smartphones, but which lack an operating system with the sophistication that you would find in, say, iOS or Android smartphones. microISVs, on the other hand, define smartphones as phones with a large installed base, and adequate software development tools to make it easy to create apps.

When you see market penetration numbers for phones, be sure to split the data into its component pieces: smartphones and feature phones.

  • Smartphones, for example, are used by twice as many people as are feature phones in countries like Australia (65% versus 31%) and the UK (61% versus 30%). 
  • Smartphone/feature-phone market penetration is much more balanced in the US (53% versus 38%) and Russia (37% versus 51%).
  • Smartphones take a back seat to feature phones in India (10% versus 80%) and Turkey (19% versus 61%).

When selecting a phone platform for your next development project, don't just look at the overall phone market penetration numbers. Find country-by-country figures in the locations that are important to you. And be sure that the numbers relate to the OS that you want to spend time mastering.

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