Mexico: An Economy of Scale Beyond the BRICS

Jun 03, 2019
By: Marissa Camilli

With a smartphone penetration rate of just 45%, it would be all too easy for app developers to put Mexico on the back-burner and concentrate on more buoyant global markets. However, drill a little deeper into the Mexican market and you’ll discover that it is a real Latin American powerhouse and a real economy of scale.

With a population of more than 130 million people (it’s the 11th most populated country in the world), Mexico has some 59.5 million smartphone users. That’s 4.8 million more than the United Kingdom (with an 88% penetration rate), 10 million more than France (76%), and 25.9 million more than Spain (72.5%). In fact, countries like Canada, with 26.6 million smartphone owners, and Australia, with 17 million, look positively minuscule when compared the potential of the Mexican market.

And the Mexican market is growing, with analysts expecting to see upwards of 19 million more smartphone owners in the region by 2023.

The fact is Mexico doesn’t only compare well to the comparative BRICS emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and South Africa), it pretty much competes on a level playing field with many other advanced economies.

Further Reading: Brazil: The App Economy is About to Explode

A Young Market

The Mexican market is relatively young, with the median age of its citizens around 27 years. This compares with 37.8 years in the United States and a positively ancient 40 years in the UK. With youth on its side digital and, mobile technologies stand a far greater chance of deeper market penetration.

Further Reading: Gen Z – Will the Smartphone Generation Change the Way We Work
Further Reading: App Usage through the Ages – Targeting Older, More Lucrative Users

The Advantage of Speaking Spanish

Developers looking at the Mexican market cannot ignore the huge advantage offered by the fact it is a Spanish speaking country. Spanish is the second most popular language on the planet with more than 400 million native speakers. As such, app developers looking to localize and roll out apps across multiple countries will find it much easier than apps developed for smaller language markets.

Note: English might be considered the lingua franca of travel, business, and international relations but if you want to do business on a local level, you’ve really got to speak the local language. Spanish is a great starting point.  

Android Dominates Mexican Market

As is common in other Latin American markets, the Android operating system completely dominates the Mexican market with 91% of smartphone users using Google’s operating system. This compares to 47% in the US market where iOS and Android compete on a more even keel for market dominance.

Entry-level Samsung devices also top the list of the most popular smartphones in the region with the J2 and Grand Prime models being particularly common. Motorola and Huawei devices have also made significant inroads into the Mexican market.

Further Reading:  BRICS: A Smart Future Built on Affordable Devices

Top Apps – Go Lite

Communication and social media apps top the list of priorities for Mexican smartphone users with WhatsApp and SnapChat currently topping the local Google Play charts.

The challenges of a market dominated by low-spec devices is also apparent with “lite” versions of Facebook and Messenger joining their full-spec equivalents in the top ten.

Further Reading: Great Apps Come In Small Packages

Facebook and Google Apps Crowd the Market

It’s interesting to note that every app currently sitting in the top ten of Mexico’s Google Play charts is owned by either Facebook or Google. Look a little deeper into the charts and it’s clear they also dominate much of the country’s top 50. This represents a significant challenge for competitive app developers.

Limited space on devices(along with expensive mobile data-plans and limited access to wi-fi which are common in many emerging economies) may dissuade smartphone users from exploring the app marketplaces and downloading new apps to their devices. When this happens, pre-loading may be the only opportunity app developers have to compete with “essential” big brand apps.

Further Reading: How Pre-Loading Apps Can Help Developers Circumnavigate Fraud

Contact Digital Turbine

When exploring the potential in any market, it’s always best to seek the advice of local experts. As a global technology company, Digital Turbine has feet on the ground in the Mexican market, ensuring the best possible insight into the latest trends and access to the widest range of partners, including leading smartphone manufacturers and mobile networks.

Marissa Camilli
By Marissa Camilli
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