Indonesia a Big Market for Feature Phones

Smartphones have grown immensely popular, with the rise of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform as today’s dominant systems. In some regions, however, feature phones still prevail. It seems users don’t care about mobile web or apps as long as they could communicate via SMS and access Facebook.

Customers visit a BlackBerry shop in a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Feature phones are the majority in the country, and smartphone users are a small minority. (AP)

This is the case in Indonesia, explains Andy Zain, Mobile Monday Indonesia founder and Jakarta Founder’s Institute director. Zain told Tech In Asia that users are often fazed by the idea of going online through the web, even a mobile web interface. But if access to Facebook or other mobile services are made through built-in applications, then it doesn’t seem like going online.

Zain goes on to say that Indonesians prefer micro-payments than one-time payments. This applies to games, apps and other mobile services. Smartphone and PC users are the minority in the country. And entrepreneurs recognize that their market is not necessarily those who are affluent enough to afford smartphones and online serivices.

“It’s not about who has the money, but who is willing to pay,” says Zain.

We can think of it two ways. First, it’s a divide between the grassroots and the elite. However, it’s also a big opportunity for brands, service providers and entrepreneurs to tap the market and perhaps help give smartphone growth a nudge. If companies like Xiaomi can sell premium phones cheap in China, then why can’t there be a similar effort in Indonesia?