6 Tech Trends in Jamaica That Will Sky-Rocket in 2011
Jamaica is buzzing with activity as recent innovations in technology seamlessly make their way to the island. Internet penetration is rapidly increasing as companies like Digicel, LIME and Flow Jamaica continue to improve internet accessibility to the average Jamaican through low-cost devices and solutions. Retailers have focused more on catering to the “techie” appetite, bloggers and webmasters are discovering more opportunities online, software companies and individuals receiving awards for their work with technology and we now see a wave of consumers, young and old, become engaged and are anticipating the new things to come.
The changes in the marketplace are inevitable and while we see some ventures and ideas fail, others are poised for growth that will spark a radical change in the way Jamaicans use and view new technology and even business.
Let’s take a look at some of the activities and trends that ended last year on a good note and continue to push forward in 2011.
Blogging & Personal Brand Building
The rise of the Jamaican blogger has been a slow and steady process and until late last year, most Jamaican bloggers were fairly unknown and have been catering to small yet dedicated audiences. Since the launch of the Jamaica Blog Awards, over 200 blogs have been nominated in the competition and gained the top blogs massive exposure online and off. Throughout the competition, the blog awards website has attracted a massive amount of readers as they flock to cast votes for their favorite blogs.
The Ease of Blogging
Blogging is now as simple as signing up for a free account online on publishing platforms such as Tumblr, WordPress & Blogger, that allow users to start publishing and branding immediately.
The voice and success of the Jamaican blogger will continue to grow at great pace throughout 2011 as more persons see its potential for building business and personal brand.
Although very few local companies have embraced the potential that e-commerce holds for business, we are seeing a greater number of persons seeking to make purchases online and companies such as Global Couriers Ltd. and eShopja.com are trying to make that process simple and hassle free. First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) has seen the need for facilitating payments online for Jamaicans and thus last year launched the first US debit card in Jamaica. The approval process for the debit card is much simpler than the standard credit card, works based on funds in customers bank accounts and allow their customers to purchase online.
We should see an increase in Jamaicans making use of e-commerce.
Online News Growing in Popularity & Use
Quite a number of newspaper publishing companies have gone under in the past few years in the US with the increasing use of news websites and thus a decreased reliance on the paper. The old publishing business model is no longer viable as consumers are now less willing to pay for traditional award-winning journalism in a world where the latest breaking news is free, online and can be delivered to computers and mobile devices the moment it is published.
The Jamaica Observer and The Gleaner, two of the most popular online newspapers in Jamaica, are slowly witnessing that same change in Jamaica and have begun to focus their efforts on developing their online news presence while also trying to monetize as best as they can. Another great success so far is the On The Ground News Report (OGNR) Facebook fan page which gained popularity during the Dudus extradition dilemma. OGNR’s Facebook page, since early last year, now stands at 53,000 likes and users are continuously interacting with the page, looking for and debating the latest news stories. OGNR shows that large financial investments and infrastructure are not necessarily needed to impact the online news business.
Another rising online newspaper within the wider Caribbean we should watch is Caribbean360 News, whose following has also been steadily rising.
With mobile penetration over 95% in Jamaica and a vast number of mobile phones in use being smartphones, we see a widening market for developers who wish to cater to and monetize the local Jamaican and Caribbean market. This is evident by work being done by developers such as Samuel Folkes, developer of the ZIP103FM Blackberry App and Alex Morissey, developer of the Songwrita Facebook App who have captured the attention of “techies” and music lovers worldwide.
Social Media Marketing
Many Jamaican companies have experienced significant success through social media marketing and the concept is becoming a crucial aspect of every new business plan/strategy. Digicel Jamaica, one of the major players online, have captured the attention of customers and user interaction with their pages have been huge as they use them as both marketing tool and customer support. They now have over 267,000 Facebook fans and over 8,700 Twitter followers. Not to mention the success of the Jamaica Blog Awards, who through their use of Facebook and Twitter, gained over 140,000 page views over a 6 week period after the site’s launch on December 1, 2010.
Social media marketing is a cost-effective strategy that continues to prove its worth for building business and personal brand.
Rise of the Tablets
Since the start of the year over 10 tablets have been announced to enter the market and they’re all aiming at toppling the Apple iPad. With Digicel’s launch of the Samsung Galaxy Tab in Jamaica, we should see more retailers offering both high-end and low-end tablets throughout the year since the iPad is already growing in popularity and availability locally.
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