Developing for Low-Cost Phones

It is no more news that Mobile is the future of technology in Africa. But are African/Nigerian developers really preparing for that future? Some weeks ago, I had problem accessing twitter on my internet access due to the problem my ISP had with its backbone provider. I was left with no other option but to go mobile with my Nokia C2-00 phone and that really prompted me to search for twitter clients and some other apps for feature phones.

To my big disappointment, I could only see few applications that I could use on my device even on Nokia store and other online mobile app store. What is even more surprising is that almost 60% of weekly devices sales at Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos are feature phones. And also, all major device manufacturers are releasing new feature phones almost every time to cater for the need of people.  So, the question is ” what are the developers doing?

Why develop for Low-cost Phone?

One major reason why you need to develop for the feature phones is that your apps will be targeting the next billion. And more importantly as designers and developers, you can easily and economically provide users of even low cost phones with a rich experience. This new demographic will bring new opportunities for every web asset, from global brands to local content, efficiently and easily.

And Nokia proved this to the developer community by holding two Developers training within 5 months in Nigeria (one in May and the second in August 2011). And the most interesting thing is that each training was focused on Java and web app development. Why it is good to develop for Symbian, Android, WP7, Meego, Bada and even other smartphone platforms, you need to ensure that your apps also function very well on the low-cost devices.

My father who owns a little factory in Ibadan will be ready to pay $1 or $2 for an application which will help him to make all his transactions with his customer without any stress. The good news is that there are many people like my father and they most likely own a low-cost device. They are also willing to pay for one app or the other that can help them in their daily activities. The challenge? There are many few of such around at the moment.

And if we fail to take advantage of this opportunity, foreign developers / companies will do it.

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