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Friday, January 18, 2013

The Smartphone Frontiers: India, Russia, Brazil

Here in the United States, if you whip out a clamshell flip phone, chances are you’ll be called a caveman or Luddite. But elsewhere, there are still some emerging countries where the old-school cellphone has yet to become passé.

In India, Russia and Brazil, the older types of cellphone are still the most popular, according to a study published Thursday by Nielsen, the research firm. In India, 80 percent of phone users own an old-style feature phone, and only 10 percent have a smartphone, according to Nielsen’s estimates. In Brazil and Russia, feature phones account for roughly half the market.

Why the sluggish adoption for smartphones In such countries, smartphones can be even more expensive than they are here. In Russia, for example, the full price of an iPhone 4 is $663 through Beeline, the Russian carrier.

China s one emerging country where the smartphone is dominant, with 66 percent of the market. That is largely thanks to the plethora of cheap Android smartphones available there.

It’s no wonder there are whispers of Apple’s making a cheaper iPhone. In the coming years, manufacturers will be fiercely competing for the remaining nonsmartphone owners, who are mostly in emerging countries. Recent data from Qualcomm suggests that emerging regions including Latin America, China and India are adding substantially higher numbers of smartphone subscriptions than North America, Japan, Korea and Europe.