To me, one of the most exciting opportunities in social media and gaming is in the truly emerging markets, the countries one or two economic tiers below what is currently considered the emerging economic group (the latter consisting of countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China). I wrote a few months ago about how interesting Africa is potentially to social game companies and I wanted to expand on those thoughts now that a recent TechCrunch article has highlighted the opportunity.
The theme of the article is that the next billion smartphone users will comprise the second billion most affluent people on the planet. They will come from countries like Myanmar and Vietnam in Asia, Kenya and Nigeria in Africa, Colombia and Ecuador in South America, etc. What is crucial is that these people have quite different characteristics than the billion existing smartphone users. They obviously have different income levels but also have different needs, aspirations and concerns. If you hope to capitalize on this market, your tactics will probably not be those that work well in the “first world.”
To capitalize on this billion user opportunity, the truly successful will create products that meet their customers’ needs. These products may be applications that improve micro-lending efficiency or games that generate revenue through small monthly subscriptions rather than micro-transactions, for example. That is not an easy task; most social media and app companies will make superficial attempts to capitalize on this market through iterative changes to existing business methodologies. However, the true opportunity lies in creating products that will satisfy and empower the billion new users.