Reading Tip: Ringing Back Africa

mobile zeitgeist

[Author: Victor del Rozo] Ring back tones are a great success in Africa. Some factors behind this success can seldom be reproduced elsewhere, but a number can easily be applied in any other part of the world.

It should be no surprise that a mobile value-added service (VAS) is successful in Africa. According to the UCTAD’s (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) Information Economy Report 2009, the number of mobile subscriptions in Africa rose from 54 million to 350 million between 2003 and 2008. Africa is the fastest growing market for mobile services.

However, the same report states that broadband internet access has not shown any substantial growth. As a result, VAS growth potential is limited to those services that do not necessarily require internet access.

The use of high-end mobile devices is relatively low with the exception of very few countries. Music in general is an important factor in African cultures. The average age of the population in most African countries is around twenty, which is very low.

These circumstances contribute significantly to the success of ring back tones. Internet access is not a strict requirement. The service is purely network-based and does not need advanced mobile devices. It is centered around music and young people are the main target. Yet, these factors are not sufficient to make the service a success, neither are they mandatory for a successful ring back service.

Ring back tones can still be a success regardless of these factors. Experience with customers in North America, Europe and Russia has shown this time and again. In Russia, for example, even if the average age is significantly higher (actually closer to Europe’s), the success of ring back tones is comparable to Africa. […]

More in the seventh edition (page 20) of our mobile zeitgeist SPECIALS this time with focus on foreign countries and what we can learn from them.

The next issue will be published end of October 2010 and we are looking for authors. Focus of this edition will be “Three Years iPhone” Interested? Please email me heikescholz[at]

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Nach über zehn Jahren als Strategieberaterin für internationale Unternehmen gründete die Diplom-Kauffrau 2006 mobile zeitgeist und machte es zum führenden Online-Magazin über das Mobile Business im deutschsprachigen Raum. Heute ist sie ein anerkannter und geschätzter Speaker und gehört zu den Influencern der deutschen Internet-Szene. Weiterhin ist sie Beiratsmitglied für die Studiengänge Angewandte Informatik und Mobile Computing an der Hoschschule Worms. Als Co-Founder von ZUKUNFT DES EINKAUFENS, begleitet sie die Digitale Transformation im stationären Einzelhandel. Sie berät und trainiert Unternehmen, die sich den Herausforderungen der Digitalisierung stellen und fördert mit ihrem Engagement die Entwicklung verschiedener Branchen und Märkte.

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