MGF 2012: Gamevil, InMobi, GREE, Papaya, TIMWE and Maysalward talk mobile games and emerging markets
Kicking on with a discussion about the value of feature phones, Nour Khrais, CEO of Jordanian publisher Maysalward said "The term 'smartphone' in the middle east means BlackBerry, even though it's not what we would call a smartphone," adding, 'And we can't ignore Nokia either'.
Looking to the future
"There's money everywhere but is there profit?" questioned Kyu Lee, Gamevil USA's president.
"Two years ago, 90 percent of our sales were feature phones, now it's 90 percent smartphones so I wouldn't bet on feature phones."
Khrais suggested in the middle east, the market was more complex as some people have a smartphone and a feature phone.
"We can't ignore feature phones," he said.
Considering China, Papaya Mobile's Paul Chen said, "Papaya is in it for the longhaul so that's what we're investing in. We're not going to invest in a shrinking market [feature phones]."
"In China, the momentum is swinging towards smartphones. You can buy an Android phone from $80."
However, without Android Market or Google Checkout, he said,have deal with local issues such as pre-paid payment cards and dozens of Android app stores.
"You have to partner with companies who can offer you these local services, almost in a pre-packaged form," he argued.
"Japan will be more important for us in the short term but China is more important in the long term," explains Kyu, of Korean publisher Gamevil's view on the matter. "We need to understand China more before making moves there."
"We are helping Chinese companies monetising outside of China," explained Ricardo Carvalho, co-founder of payment company TIMWE, highlighting a reversed business direction.
This was something also highlighted by GREE's Amanda Cinfio, who pointed out that GREE worked with local developers to get their games into the high value western and Japan markets.
"We are starting to see a proliferation of studios in Latin America and China," she said.
"China, Japan and South Korea have all seen strong Android growth for us," said Limvirak Chea, pointing out that its recent $200 million investment will be fueling its growth in those markets.