In NBU markets around the world, the internet is a phone, rendering the NBUs mobile-first or, in many cases, mobile-only. According to a 2019 report published by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), almost three-quarters of all internet users around the world will access the web solely through their smartphones by the year 2025.

Mobile internet has connected remote populations, affording unprecedented access to education, health care, government services, job training, agricultural efficiency, and more. Mobile has added trillions to the global economy, much of it due to sustained growth in emerging NBU markets, and it’s raised millions of individuals out of poverty and into the formal economy along the way.

Almost three-quarters of all internet users around the world will access the web solely through their smartphones by the year 2025.

Global Findex Database.

The proliferation of the mobile internet among NBU markets can be credited in large part to the growing availability of low-cost, entry-level smartphones, many of which are made by our partners at Jio, Nokia and others. The newest of these devices can cost as little as $25 while delivering capabilities of much more expensive smartphones, thanks in part to Android-based apps that are specifically designed to run quickly and smoothly on entry-level devices.

Moreover, the widening availability of 4G broadband has made data costs more affordable in many NBU markets — data is now 96% less expensive in India than it was just six years ago — enabling even more people to own and use a smartphone.

In 2021, we partnered with Indian telecom Jio to launch the JioPhone Next — an affordable smartphone built for India that will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time. This is a testament to Jio’s role in helping to make technology accessible and helpful for everyone.

Nokia, another of our valued partners, has contributed to helping many new internet users own a smartphone: by creating simple, low-cost devices and enabling quality apps to work on those devices. For example, Nokia made Camera Go the default camera app in Nokia 1.3 and Nokia 1.4, affordable, easy-to-use phones that run on Android Go. This means that even on entry-level devices, millions can have access to a great camera app that takes high-quality photos.

For the novice internet user, these affordable yet quality mobile devices built by Jio, Nokia, and others promise a positive and valuable first internet experience that will play a huge role in bolstering their digital confidence. Additionally, the lessons we learn will influence hardware design as similar devices are manufactured and made available to more NBU markets in the near future.


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