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Smartphone Penetration in Bali & Gili Islands

Smartphone Penetration in Bali & Gili Islands
by Eric Esteve on 09-04-2015 at 12:00 pm

Whether you travel for business purpose or to stay for holidays in one of the paradise island part of the “Lesser Sunda Islands” like Bali or the Gili Meno, you always learn about mobile phone penetration. If you stay in one of the luxury resorts, populated by rich western or Chinese people, you probably don’t learn more than when walking in an international airport, or staying at home in Europe or USA. As far as I am concerned, I was lucky enough to stay in a friend’s house in Bali. The house was embedded in a typical suburb between Denpassar (100% Indonesian) and Kuta (100% touristic). That means that when you walk 100 meters outside the house, you can buy fruits in a grocery like local people, and have an idea about their way of life…

The first time I went to Bali was 15 years ago and I was surprised to see that in any shop, from the smaller lost in the country to those located in the touristic area, the vendor was always using a pocket calculator (even for the most obvious calculation). I must say that things have changed a lot: the same people tend to use their cell phone instead of the calculator! I have seen many people in the street with a cell phone, rather the robust Nokia type that we were using in Europe in the early 2000’s than the last Apple or Samsung (or even the $100 smartphone like from Wiko or Huawei).

I said “with” on purpose, as they don’t use it that much. Why? As often, the cost is the reason. Asking for using somebody’s cell phone in an hotel to call a friend, I was told OK, but I should pay Rupias 7,000 per minute. It’s only 50 cents of $, but you have to keep in mind that you can get an excellent main course for Rupias 30,000 as a tourist… or 4 minutes call! It’s probably way too expensive when the average monthly salary is 2 Million Rupias, or $140… my marketing message to operators!

I couldn’t get a picture of the guy fishing and driving the boat with a cell-phone in hand, for obvious reasons: one hand is for fishing and the second for the boat. But I can tell you that the phone is inside the orange hermetic bag! And, by the way, we didn’t catch any fish, even a small Mackerel or white Tuna… The picture is taken around Gili Meno, a minuscule island close to Lombock, and the fisher is also running a small resort with his two brothers. It was interesting to see how useful can be a cell phone during electricity shut down: that’s the only way to listen music! From the waiter to the boss, every people in the staff had his own phone, even if they really don’t use it very often.

Just a precision about Gili Meno, this island is the country of marine turtles, and I have discovered that snorkeling with these ladies, sometimes for 10 or 12 minutes in a row, can be a real ecstasy (and I do snorkeling for about 40 years). Gili Meno habitant used to be fishermen, but they clearly enjoy a better life by working for tourism (there is no mass tourism on such a small island). Their behavior with turtles demonstrates that they are pretty cleaver and that they have understood their market segment positioning: when the turtles lay, for example at a few meters from the resort, they capture the baby turtles. The goal is to nurture the babies (see below when they change water) until they are strong enough to escape more easily from predators (it takes a few months) and to release them in the sea, during a ceremony. Turtles help the island peoples to bring tourist (and money) so the peoples help the turtles to survive!

I agree that we escape a little bit from smartphone marketing survey, but I found this story a good marketing case. Want some more insight about smartphone in Indonesia? Let’s talk about the traffic in Bali. About 95% of the vehicles are made of scooters, and that’s a good news because the 5% remaining cars and trucks are creating huge traffic jam. As usual in Asia, you can see a complete 4 people family riding one scooter, but let’s look at the simple case: two (upper class) teenagers riding a scooter, the boy drive, the girl is beside. As far as I have seen, it’s very, very fashionable for the girl to consult messages on her smartphone while the boy is driving… and to answer to these Emails.

The most important being to acting just like she was at home sitting on a chair!

There is absolutely no reason for posting this last picture… but I like it!

Eric Esteve from IPNEST

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