CNN recently reported on a staggeringly obvious, yet rarely reported, fact about cell phone users: in the US, 75% of people use feature phones, not smartphones; worldwide 95% of cell phone users have feature phones. CLO Recommendation: If you want to reach all wireless subscribers, you need mobile apps (powered by network-based location data) that work on feature phones, not just smart phones.
Sure, they don’t seem as sexy, but feature phones are the tough underdogs of the phone world, and they’re not going away. While most tech reporters focus on the new and the sexy, most users are sticking with the tried and true: feature phones.
Facebook recognized this when they rolled out an app designed to work on feature phones. They offer an app for smartphones too, but they’re quick to recognize that, in the US and around the world, most of their market isn’t there. Facebook knows that in the developing world feature phones are the gateway to the Internet for most users and will remain so for the next several years.
Facebook’s new app is built on the Java-enabled app platform Snaptu. Snaptu’s free software gives feature phone users access to a plethora of apps, including Twitter, Picasa, an RSS reader, and AccuWeather. There are other players in this field too: Getjar, The Brew, etc. What they underline is that the distinction between smart and feature phones is fading: feature phones are getting smarter too.
And a smart strategist keeps that in mind.
It’s not always the youngest fighter who delivers the knockout blow.