When we look at the adoption of mobile devices across the globe, we know it has skyrocketed in Latin America. eMarketer research finds 439 million in the regional population own mobile devices. Almost half of that will log on to mobile Internet this year.
The mobile market in is booming, and there are huge opportunities for app developers entering the Latin American mobile app market. With relatively low competition and a well-equipped user base, it’s time to pay attention.
Here's a look at the major mobile trends happening now in Latin America:
Android Is King
In most mobile markets across the globe, iOS engagement has gone unmatched. This isn’t the case in Latin America. Recent research by comScore revealed Android beats iOS by a significant margin in some of the largest Latin American mobile markets. The study, which focused on seven countries, calculated the approximate market share for Android devices as follows:
Chile – 80%
Brazil – 76%
Argentina – 75%
Mexico and Colombia – 74%
Peru – 72%
Venezuela – 62%
The overwhelming success of Android devices in Latin America is most due to the lower price point and a wider range of mobile device options. App marketing activities are much less intense than in Europe and the U.S. Going after smaller, more targeted markets can make it easier and cheaper to push your Android app up the charts.
Latin America Is Mobile Social
Gaming apps dominate the charts in the Latin American mobile market. However, more and more Latin Americans are also accessing social media through mobile devices. An astonishing 94.1% of Internet users in Latin America use social networks. Latin American countries also account for five out of the top 10 spots for the most time spent on social networks.
For social app developers, consider allocating a significant portion of your marketing efforts to Latin America as a fast way to grow your user base. Targeting advertising to Latin American mobile users through social networks, especially Facebook, delivers strong results. Brazil, which currently ranks highest for the number of active Facebook users in the region. Chile has Facebook penetration is nearly 60%.
Mobile Messaging Services Are Eagerly Embraced
One of the most popular smartphone applications among Latin American users is over-the-top (OTT) mobile messaging services, such as WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE. Thanks to the free and convenient aspects of these apps and the ability to provide users with far richer experiences than traditional text messaging offerings, mobile messaging apps have gained widespread popularity. In Mexico, it is estimated there will be 49.8 million over-the-top mobile messaging users this year.
Tablet Sales Are Spiking
Tablet sales in the U.S. and European countries may hit a saturation point soon, but in Latin America the tablet market is rapidly growing, thanks to the increased availability of local brands at lower price points.
Many Latin American governments are also investing in large tablet purchases for schools and organizations in order to increase the adoption of technology. And because of the higher costs associated with tablet-specific mobile data plans, Wi-Fi-only models are dominating the market. Looking ahead, it is estimated tablet sales throughout Latin America will grow rapidly and account for nearly 9.3% of the global tablet market by 2018.
Ready For Mobile Money
There is a large portion of the Latin American population that still handles most of their personal transactions with cash. An estimated 40% of the regional population over 15 remains unbanked, and in some areas, the figure climbs above 60%. In contrast, mobile phone penetration across the region has reached 100%, ranging from less than 70% in Belize, to around 150% in Argentina and Uruguay. This has led to a rapidly growing number of Latin American Internet users choosing to conduct transactions and payments via their mobile devices.
The rapid embrace of mobile payment solutions means more opportunities are opening up for mobile commerce in Latin America. Mobile commerce apps are being welcomed as an attractive alternative to the traditional financial services and shopping methods so common in the region. The convenience that mobile commerce applications provide for everyday transactions, such as paying bills, is highly valued by Latin American consumers and there is still plenty of opportunity in this market for those with innovative solutions who get there first.