Mobile Apps Competition Puts Women Online in the Developing World

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vodafone is sponsoring a competition to encourage developers to build mobile apps for women in developing countries.

The GSMA mWomen ’Base of the Pyramid’ apps challenge competition aims to address the needs of the 300 million women in developing countries who are not yet connected to a mobile device.

The competition was open to original applications from software development companies producing ’feature’ and smartphone applications aligned to the socio-economic benefits of mobile connectivity for women in developing markets worldwide.

Vodafone’s director of content services, Lee Epting, said there were still cultural barriers affecting whether women should have access to telephony in some countries.

“In territories including Africa, sub-continental Asia and parts of Latin America, women are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than their male counterparts,” she said. “This is a $13 billion revenue market of 300 million users in terms of unrealised sustainable ARPU and the mWomen initiative aims to connect at least half these women within three years.”

Formally launched by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February 2010, the mWomen programme is focused on mature market study data suggesting that women typically make 80% of the purchasing decisions in any household, be it in Harare, Haiti or Hammersmith, says Epting. “But until now, nobody has been thoroughly researching the developing nations market for mobile in terms of women’s needs and examining the kinds of service, network tariff plans and content that needs to be built to serve this sector.”

Commenting on the observation that women are still just ’people’ and app users in the same way men are, Epting said there was still a personal connectivity divide in many parts of the world – and that was what this programme aimed to address.

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