For most of us, when we think of Mozilla Firefox, we think of the Firefox web-browser, which more than holds its own against the likes of Chrome, Opera or Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
What will be less familiar to many is that Mozilla Firefox has also partnered with hardware firms to bring Firefox smartphones to fifteen different markets last year. Kicking off 2014 seven new Firefox smartphones were launched this week.
Of course us rich westerners wouldn’t be seen dead using a $25 mobile. It wouldn’t have the latest totally pointless accessories we can’t do without, and more importantly we’d lose all street cred, So these $25-a-piece mobiles are aimed at the emerging markets. Places like Costa Rica, Guatamala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama in Latin America, and Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro and Macedonia in Europe.
We can expect much more of the world to follow. And we can expect other operators and manufacturers to jump on the low-end market bandwagon very quickly, because the sheer number of new customers will more than make up for the lower margins.
For authors this is exciting news. Smartphones, tablets and phablets are already making access to reading possible for the first time to millions of people across the globe for whom books are simply not available, but the cost of devices means smartphones are still an unaffordable luxury to the vast majority.
Over the next few years, as low-end devices proliferate, we are going to see literally hundreds of millions of people in the developing world able to e-read for the first time, on top of the hundreds of millions in the more advanced nations who now read print and will be making the transition to digital.
And here’s the best bit. It may seem paradoxical but the global digital market is going to be many, many times bigger than the print market ever was, even while the print markets continue to survive and even thrive.
As we are always reminding you, English is the lingua franca of the world. Your greatest asset.
Over the next decade the potential audience for your ebooks and audio-books is going to grow and grow and grow, as e-reading and e-listening spreads.
We also say being there is half the battle. For the current western markets that is indeed the case. With very little effort indies can get into pretty much all the current key markets in North America, western Europe and Oceania.
But that of course leaves most of the world out of the equation. As yet the big western retailers have largely shown themselves indifferent to the emerging markets. Google Play leads the way, and bizarrely Nook might not be far behind (more on this in another post), and Kobo could yet surprise us, depending on what direction Rakuten’s new man in charge of Kobo wants to go,
The key to the emergent global ebook markets is not, as you might expect, distribution. Apart from Africa most of the globe is well-covered one way or another. No, the stumbling block for global ebook expansion is payment processing.
This – not any anti-Amazon sentiment – is why we rule out Amazon playing any significant role in these new markets, and why Kobo and Nook are also no-hopers.
Google Play have proved themselves versatile and adaptable, and may yet pull this off (as we’ll be showing in a post on glocalization shortly they are well ahead of any other western company) but our gut feeling is that when it comes to the emerging global ebook markets the current players – even Google Play – are going to be left in the dust by newly-formed Far East operatives who have built themselves up by solving exactly problems such as these, and who have none of the baggage that weighs down the West’s current big players.
We’ll be looking at the nimble newbies in future posts, and show you how forward-looking authors can position themselves to be not only in with the new kids on the block, but also how they can be building a loyal fan-base in countries these new kids will be supplying, even before their ebooks are available for sale.
Remember, the savvy indie author plans for the next five years, not the next five weeks. The ebook market in 2019 is going to be as different from today as what today is from 2009.
The opportunities emerging as the global markets develop are mind-blowing. Forget not partying like it’s 2009. it’s time to stop partying like it’s 2013!
It’s time to Go Global In 2014.
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