In the developing world, feature phones are becoming more popular with basic forms of GPS, a camera, MP3 Player, internet access of sorts alongside having the ability to run simple apps. These devices are the middle ground between your basic phone which make, and receive calls and texts, and smartphones. Feature phones tend to have a longer battery life then smartphones and are often cheap and hard wearing which makes them a good choice for those living in emerging economies.
This market is a niche for developers at the moment, instead of creating apps that are faster and HD, developers can go back to basics just like Bolser (a mobile app development agency) did. Bolser created a feature phone version of the BBC’s Top Gear news app by removing the videos and HD images, it made the interface and the data really simple, it became very successful in south-east Asia. ForgetMeNot Africa (Message Optimising company) created a platform that allows users of basic and feature phones to update their Facebook accounts, send and receive emails and chat over the internet, using either SMS or via an app.
The hardest part people creating applications for feature phones face is making their target audience aware that their apps exist for the devices. After that the companies have to find a way to get their applications on to the phones as most app stores require a debit or card for purchases, however, when most feature phones are used in developing countries this proves to be difficult. Upstream emerging markets mobile attitudes report, a poll of 3,500 consumers in Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, showed just 29% wanted to pay by card, 42% wanted to be billed via their operator. Some asked for bank transfer and secure payment services, while 8% didn’t seem to know.
Image by Rhinman