Press Release

Ten years since the launch of iOS, new research out today commissioned by Upstream, the leading mobile commerce platform in high growth markets, has found that Apple’s operating system could see a new opportunity over the next decade in emerging markets where currently 18% of consumers use iOS and 78% use Android.

Apple’s global market share slipped 1.1% over the last year, especially in Western strongholds. This comes at a time when 92% of consumers in developing markets are using digital services on their mobile devices, beyond traditional voice and messaging, and 51% pay up to $5 a month to use them. The findings of the 2017 Emerging Markets Digital Services report, commissioned by Upstream and conducted by global consulting and research firm Ovum reveal that consumers value digital services more than the handsets they use to access them.

The results point to an opportunity for technology and digital companies to engage consumers in developing markets who are hungry for a variety of digital services:
• 53% make use of digital utilities like anti-virus, battery and memory boosters every day
• 51% use a daily digital education application like language learning services
• 64% access religious content on their digital devices daily

The survey of 4,000 respondents across Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa also found that when it comes to discovering these new digital services, social media networks play a key role for 53% of emerging market consumers. Equally effective in promoting new digital services to customers are operator owned channels (53%). Furthermore, consumers prefer to pay for digital services via mobile operator backed methods (64%), such as carrier billing, and 59% would use digital services more if a faster registration process for subscriptions was offered.

Guy Krief, CEO of Upstream commented:
“British digital brands, and their western counterparts, need to think globally when crafting their growth strategy. Emerging markets offer an opportunity to engage with a new generation of connected consumers as they come online for the first time. While these brands are well placed to form a relationship with customers all over the world due to their international appeal, they need to understand the local markets, and the key role operators play in enabling access to a realm of digital services to consumers.”

The research further reveals that 37% of consumers find digital services expensive and involve high data consumption. The findings highlight that mobile network operators are in a crucial position as a gateway for emerging market consumers to access and pay for digital services, like utilities for mobile devices, entertainment and mobile financial services, such as microinsurance.

Krief continued, “Apple’s high device cost has driven many users to purchase much cheaper handsets, the availability of which has opened up a huge digital opportunity in emerging markets to be captured via mobile. It’s not just that the phone is the key connected device in these high-growth markets; it’s also that the mobile can serve as a medium to cover basic social infrastructure gaps, whether in financial services, education, health, etc. Only 2% of Egyptians have a payment card, for example, so the airtime balance on their phone is the easiest way for them to make an online payment for the digital services they want. Digital brands need to adapt their approach to the unique needs of emerging markets consumers through the utilisation of the high trust consumers have in mobile operators to deliver digital services. 62% of consumers already trust them more than other providers in the delivery of digital services over mobile.”

Upstream is a leading mobile commerce platform, accelerating m-commerce in high growth markets. Our software and infrastructure platform already enables 1.2 billion people to effortlessly receive and pay for the most relevant and affordable digital subscription services on their mobile devices. We have 80 million paying subscribers in 45+ countries, making purchases worth $237 million in 2016 alone and growing rapidly.

For mobile operators, we are a strong partner that leverages their unique assets to become key players in the mobile commerce space. For developers, publishers and service providers, we offer fast track access to 45+ high growth markets.

The study was led by Ovum, on behalf of Upstream, and included a mobile survey of 4,000 consumers in Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa. The research was conducted between 15th January and 5th February 2017.