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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Mobile technology conference highlights region’s challenges

Digital

Mobile technology conference highlights region’s challenges

The increasing influence of mobile technology in telecommunications marketing was the subject under discussion at a major seminar held yesterday in Dubai. Branded as ‘a conference with a difference,’ the event was organized by Initiative, a UAE-based media communications network and examined the challenges and opportunities presented to industry operators in a digital age that is characterized by networking on the move.

Promoted under the tagline ‘#LetsTalkMobile,’ the conference was the latest in Initiative’s series of interactive gatherings for its ‘Initiative Talks’ platform, which invites discussion and debate about the region’s telecommunications landscape. The program of the conference is the fruit of extensive research undertaken by Initiative across the pan-Arab region examining behavior, trends and predicted outcomes for mobile data use. The high quality of information gathered through their quantitative and qualitative research has seen Initiative partner with major telecommunications operators, including Etisalat UAE, Mobily KSA and Etisalat Egypt to provide them with strategic direction.

“Initiative Talks is a thought leadership platform that aims to share with our partners the various learnings that we have accumulated throughout the pursuit of managing our client partner’s business,” said Faysal Zouk, Managing Director at Initiative. “Each program aims to shed light on key trends and provides in-depth analysis of consumer behavior vis-à-vis these trends. This year’s event is focused on the telecommunications and mobile industry, specifically, the mobile experience and its new emergent technologies, while allowing space for our partners to express their perspectives in that regard,” he added.

The Initiative Talks’ program included an analysis of the mobile experience from Sarah Ivey, Initiative Global Chief Strategy Officer, whose presentation discussed the statistics for mobile device use across the MENA region. These revealed, among other things, that KSA were the keenest on-line shoppers, with 40 per cent of smartphone users in the country purchasing goods and services from home.

Customers in the UAE were more than twice as likely as those in KSA to check on-line product reviews using their device at home and also led the way in comparing prices and looking up product specifications from the comfort of their living rooms. Smartphone users in Egypt were found to be least likely to shop and check product information from home. Ivey’s research also looked at the phenomenon of smartphone take-up, with the results showing that the UAE and KSA had a very high number of early adopters, but also that there are few reliable mobile shopping websites or payment applications in these markets.

“Early adopter markets have users who are highly active and engaged and therefore have higher usage levels across most smartphone activities compared with more mature markets whose usage is diluted by Mr and Mrs Average,” said Ivey. “However, early adopters don’t explain the entire disparity in the markets.  Practical factors, such as infrastructure availability and network reliability also influence consumers’ smartphone take-up and use,” she added.

Established in 2001, Initiative Media Middle East forms part of the Middle East Communications Network, one of the largest communications groups in the MENA region. Initiative operates with a network of over one hundred media specialists and has offices in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Cairo, Beirut and Morocco. Other MCN group affiliate offices include Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and Algeria.

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