Mobile Phones - targetting the periferia

an interesting story taken directly from ther Guardian newspaper last week about how mobile companies are targetting residents of the periferia in Rio "When Alan Roberto Lima was growing up in Vila Aliança, a notoriously violent favela on the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, only the community's elite could afford mobile phones.

"The bandits and the big businessmen," said Lima, 33, whose family has lived in the community since 1962, when the government evicted thousands of slum dwellers, including his mother, from the city centre and packed them off to housing estates such as Vila Aliança. Today things have changed. Just as the heavily armed drug traffickers have seized control of the slums since the 1980s, so too have mobiles.

"Cell phones are just like cellulite - any old bum has it," said Lima, who pays R$140 (£40) a month for his Nextel radio phone with 400 free minutes and which helps him run his beachwear business, which produces over 1,000 pairs of Bermuda shorts each month for the chic boutiques of Ipanema and Copacabana.

Brazil is at the forefront of the mobile phone revolution. According to figures released last month by Brazil's telecommunications regulator, Anatel, 1.3 million new mobile phone users were registered in January 2009 alone, taking the total number of users in Brazil to 151.9 million out of a total population of 190 million. On the frontline of the mobile phone's charge in South America are the red brick shanty towns of cities such as Rio and São Paulo. Mobile phone companies are increasingly targeting the slums in search of new customers.

"Without my mobile, my business would become unviable," said Lima, whose family business helps dress Rio's fashionable beachgoers."

Brazilians pay highest cell phone bills in the world

Cellular owners in Brazil pay more for the use of their mobile telephone than any other country in the world. The data comes from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). According to the criterion of Purchasing Power Parity (PCC), which has reference to the price of a basic package offered by the operators - which includes the monthly cost of subscription, 25 calls per month and 30 torpedoes (SMS messages) - the Brazilian spent on average R $ 107.00 per month on a cell phone, equivalent to U.S. $ 44.20. In 2008, the cost of local cellular minutes in peak hours was $ 0.92, while in Germany the figure was $ 0.06.  The Brazilian also pays above the global average for use of their phone to connect to the internet. Operators claim that the principal reason for such high charges are taxes which in some states constitute 40% of the overall bill.

Share your mobile???

Nokia announced last week that they were launching two handsets aimed at consumers in emerging markets.  The launch of the Nokia 2600 classic and the Nokia 1209 is based on research which identified a rise in the sharing of mobile phones.   Cost sensitivity and the desire for customisation are cited as important issues however a new trend appears to be emerging: phone sharing. "More than 50% of respondents in India, Pakistan and nearly 30% in Vietnam indicate that they share, or would share, their mobile phone with family or friends – a figure which contrasts consumer behaviour in more mature markets". As a result the Nokia 1209, offers additional cost management features to make phone sharing easy and convenient. Innovations include the pre-paid tracker, a cost-tracking application, and the multiple phonebook – which allows up to five people to store personal contact lists of up to two hundred numbers on a single phone.

So do you share your phone with others, or have you in the past...

what do you think of Nokia's initiative?