Notes from the road: emerging markets edition

Some anecdotal observations from my summer holiday travels in South-East Europe/Eurasia:

  • Smartphones and feature phones peacefully coexist according to a pretty well-defined generational breakdown. Older folks tend to prefer feature phones (easier to use, more phone like, no need to upgrade). The trojan horse is camera quality and ease of sharing photos: this seems to be the main driver towards upgrades.
  • The young trendsetter demographic appears to be migrating towards high end Android devices (and Samsung reigns supreme here) over Apple’s iphone – in many areas there’s no supporting ecosystem for content (e.g. Turkish version of iTunes was only launched in Dec. 2012)
  • The war for the living room seems less pronounced and cordcutting isn’t much of a concept. Cable TV is actually a great entertainment deal with excellent sports and content options often in a variety of languages.
  • WiFi everywhere – cafes, restaurants, etc and patrons commonly ask for login credentials for wireless access. Once on, the first step is to check social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram depending on individual preference) – the entryway for most content consumption.
  • Thanks to the ubiquity of wifi many folks appear to be content with carrying smartphones w/o a data plan.
  • BBM has been replaced by WhatsApp even among Berry loyalists.
  • Shazam is amazing and we need a Shazam for everything (a few suggestions during the trip: flags, flowers, fish – really pointing towards visual search rather than audio identification).

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