Happening alongside the global smartphone craze, the launch of a new feature phone-friendly mobi site by Wonga.com may appear to be unreasonably regressive but it actually come with a critical exhortation for South African operators: Ignore the feature phone segment of the market at your peril.
According to latest research by Gartner, global smartphone sales recently surpassed that of feature phones for the first time. While South Africa has hopped into the smartphone explosion, the country’s situation is complex as still hosting about 32 million functional feature phones.
Kevin Hurwitz, CEO of Wonga.com South Africa, said despite the fact that smartphone penetration is on the rise in South Africa, brands should not ignore the fact that feature phones still offer the most access to local consumers.
Hurwitz was speaking at the launch of Wonga.com new feature phone-friendly mobi site. He said brands can often focus their marketing strategies to meet the growth experienced in the smartphone and tablet segment and in doing so fail to leverage the immense potential of South Africa’s feature phone segment.
“As a digital finance company, it is vital that our service is available to all South Africans in need of cash, on the move or otherwise, and we believe that no matter what kind of handset you own, you should be able to benefit from our fast, simple and convenient online service.” said Hurwitz.
He said the Wonga.com mobi site was designed specifically with feature phones in mind to assist the simple application process and user experience. “The advancement of mobile technology has allowed for easier access to information for all South Africans, not just those with smartphones and tablets. The secret to tapping into this ever-growing market is to optimise the user interface so that it can be viewed on all devices, as well as ensuring that users don’t incur high data charges by keeping the content simple.”
“Our software developers specifically optimised the site so that it would cater for less powerful devices with lower Internet speeds. In addition, the layout has been designed to fit smaller screens and the content has been streamlined to allow for smaller download size, resulting in a significantly smoother experience for users of low-end handsets.”
Hurwitz added that “as mobile devices, and particularly feature phones, become cheaper in South Africa, we can expect a marked increase in feature phone sales. “This projected growth is likely to fuel an increase in South African internet users thus increasing the potential for targeted marketing activities.”
Testament to this growth, Hurwitz points to latest research by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) which revealed that South African Internet users have grown by more than two million in the last 12 months.
“Tailored for their individual needs, feature phones still offer functionality and affordability to many local consumers, With mobile technology evolving daily, there is massive potential to reach consumers via devices such as smartphones and tablets, but disregard the feature phone market at your peril,” said Hurwitz.