Latin America is seeing insatiable demand for internet and smartphones among its population of 650 million.
In fact, “smartphones have been instrumental in establishing Latin America as one of the world’s largest consumers of social media, with the vast majority of usage occurring over mobile networks,” reports GSMA Intelligence.
In addition, some of the region’s leading markets are among the highest-ranked worldwide for total hours per week spent on the Internet, most notably on mobile devices, including Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. Some of the top companies that are benefiting from this growth trend include Cool Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:IFON), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics Co. (OTC:SSNLF), Telmex International and NII Holdings (NASDAQ:NIHD).
Whether it is Cool Holding’s recent acquisition of an Apple-licensed reseller that now provides it with a gateway to Latin America, or Samsung’s desire to tap the appetite of the region’s consumers, companies are just beginning to attract a significant amount of attention.
Latin America: The Smartphone Market is Booming
In 2012, smartphones accounted to fewer than one in 10 connections. Nowadays, smartphones account for six out of 10 mobile connections. That’s only expected to increase as much of Latin America experiences stronger economic growth, and as the new middle class seeks newer technologies. In addition, new technology upgrades and the evolution of smartphones will drive growth in the coming years.
There’s little wonder then that global e-commerce platforms and retailers are quickly investing in the Latin America, as well. China, for example, wants to build an Internet finance platform in Mexico, says Bloomberg. Smartphone company Transsion Holdings is setting up operations in Colombia. China Mobile Games & Entertainment plans to distribute mobile games in Mexico.
Samsung for example has captured nearly 30% of the Latin America market in the six most prominent markets – Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. However, while Samsung may have considerable market share, sales of Apple iPhone devices are growing much more rapidly than those other brands, according to The Wharton School. In fact, Apple is still aggressively pushing to the region. It’s expected to open its first global flagship store in a Mexico Citymall by 2019. Apple also signed a lease for its upcoming Antara Hall location, just months after opening its first store in Mexico’s Centro Santa Fe mall.
Even companies such as Cool Holdings Inc. (formerly InfoSonics Inc.) are widening their exposure to Latin America’sinsatiable need for smartphones and other technologies.
A Cool Move into Latin America
Cool Holdings has just begun picking up considerable market share through acquisition. In fact, it recent closed a merger with Apple-licensed and reseller Cooltech Holding Corporation that now provides it with a gateway to Latin America and the potential for further expansion in the region. It’s important to note that Cooltech is one of just a limited number of partners under the Apple Premium Reseller and Apple Authorized Reseller Mono-Brand programs in Latin America.
“We are extremely excited to complete the merger and move forward to execute our strategy as an Apple licensed partner to grow our retail footprint under our OneClick branded stores,” says InfoSonics President and CEO Mauricio Diaz. “We are one of a limited number of partners under the Apple Premium Reseller and Apple Authorized Reseller Mono-Brand programs in Latin America and the United States, and hope to expand into other countries in the near future. In addition, we want to take advantage of the synergies between our distribution business and verykool, and provide all InfoSonics shareholders with the opportunity for growth to maximize the value of our Company.”
The OneClick stores offer Apple products and approved accessories, as well as hardware and software technical service centers where customers can take their Apple equipment for repair and maintenance. The company just opened its newest OneClick store in the El Solar Shopping District in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This represents OneClick’s sixth store in the country, with plans to open seven more new stores across Argentina.
Apple Inc. – Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, and personal computers to consumers, and small and mid-sized businesses; and education, enterprise, and government customers worldwide. The company also sells related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications.
Samsung – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. engages in the manufacturing and selling of electronics and computer peripherals. The company operates through following business divisions: Consumer Electronics, Information Technology & Mobile Communications and Device Solutions. The Consumer Electronics business division provides cable television, monitor, printer, air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and medical devices. The Information Technology & Mobile Communications business division offers handheld products, communication systems, computers and digital cameras. The Device Solutions business division comprises of memory, system large-scale integrated circuit and light emitting diode.
Telmex International – Telmex is a Mexican telecommunications company headquartered in Mexico City that provides telecommunications products and services in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and other countries in Latin America.
NII Holdings – NII Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides wireless communication services to the individual consumers under the Nextel brand in Brazil. The company offers its services through wideband code division multiple access and long-term evolution networks. Its services include mobile telephone voice and wireless data, international voice and data roaming, and application-based radio connection services.
The company also provides value-added services, including sports, music, and entertainment streaming capabilities; online education; and access to national and international WiFi hotspot networks.