OS Strategy and Mobile Growth: The Global Impact of Unknown OS

By TechZone360 Special Guest
Marco Veremis, CEO, Upstream
March 23, 2015

The GSMA predicts that 65 percent of the global population will adopt smartphones by 2020. This penetration will predominantly impact critical growth markets, such as Brazil, India and regions of Africa. With this mobile increase, brands will naturally look to globalize. To do so, they must capture the attention of consumers worldwide.

Brands must embrace mobile nuances

While tech driving organizations such as Amazon, Apple and Samsung contest for global dominance, major brands and organizations are also actively expanding their reach. For example, recently, food conglomerate Mondelez announced a concerted effort to reach consumers across the globe. Via mobile, they’ve combined the influence of social media along with feature-phone first approach. This is key: to capture consumer attention, Mondelez has nuanced their mobile strategy to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Based on the company’s metrics, they’ve found that feature phones drive just as much traction among growth market audiences as smartphones—by combining their findings that in nations such as the Philippines consumers spend more than four hours per day on social media, the company is also leveraging “the Facebook experience” on basic phones.  This combination of phone type and phone use provides essential tactical knowledge that all brands must harness. 

Like Mondelez, as brands and organizations look to expand their mobile footholds, they will find that to be successful they must look beyond Android and iOS, and instead localize their strategies. For instance, the third largest OS market share globally is becoming ‘unknown OS’—neither Android nor iOS. Global consumers are not necessarily tied to systems from Google or Apple.

The impact of unknown OS

While devices on unknown OS are not as limited as feature phones, they do not offer the full smartphone experience; for example, handsets manufactured in China that run on Java-based OS—their low cost drives consumer interest. According to Upstream’s research, 35 percent of consumers across the globe consider the price of their mobile device to be vital. This is a large share of the mobile population; therefore, to capture attention, brands operating on mobile channels must keep price-point in mind, meaning they must harness possibilities beyond those afforded only by Android and iOS.

In markets such as India, nearly 84 million handsets (nearly 10 percent of devices) run on unknown OS, as do one in 10 devices in Africa. To reach consumers in these rapidly growing nations, brands targeting new customers there must practice a channel agnostic approach by offering mobile content and services that work on a variety of devices. Focusing solely on Android-and-iOS-functioning content would close the door to many global opportunities.

Unknown OS and its mobile implications

Devices functioning on unknown OS typically provide consumers access to mobile content richer than SMS, but are not as advanced. In addition, brands aiming to embrace unknown OS as a viable channel must keep in mind payment as a worldwide barrier to entry. For instance, consumers using unknown OS devices are less likely to have access to credit cards, rendering traditional app stores unusable due to a lack of access to banking services (21 percent of countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Nigeria and India cannot access credit or banking locations).

This means that alongside operating service, brands on mobile must also adjust their payment models. With this dual approach, organizations with global aspirations will see greater success in not only capturing, but retaining the attention of consumers in key growth markets across the globe. Branded mobile content functioning not only on Android and iOS, but also unknown OS, will have the highest and most rewarding impact. 

About the Author: Marco Veremis is the CEO of Upstream.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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