While conventional wisdom has it that Africa is a continent of feature phone users, TechCentral reported a few months ago that in 2019, only 27% of cellphones sold in Africa will be feature phones. The vast majority will be smartphones with 155 million units being shipped next year alone. According to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), feature phone sales are declining by 20 percent every year.
Statistics like these are relevant to mobile marketing because industry commentators often use them to signal the death knell of such ‘basic’ mobile marketing campaign tools as SMS and USSD.
This is erroneous, however. Simply because USSD and SMS are the mobile marketing bearers feature phone users most often interact with – due to the limitations of their handsets – this doesn’t mean that smartphone users don’t also use text messaging and menu-driven USSD. Whatever figures are
quoted for declining feature phone shipments in the coming years, USSD and SMS have in fact become growing mobile marketing bearers in their own right
that are independent of handset categories.
Anecdotal evidence bears this out. Just because a smartphone user has downloaded an over-the-top (OTT) messaging app such as WhatsApp, doesn’t mean they don’t regularly send and receive SMSs to and from people and organisatons they don’t wish to add to their OTT app. Thanks to the growing popularity of the most successful USSD application ever – Please Call Me – this technology will continue to prove one of the most effective and measurable ways for brands to reach mobile users, in 2019 and beyond.