Lebanon’s Desire For Smartphones

Lebanon is a small country located in the East Mediterranean boarded to the south by Israel and to the east and north by Syria. It has a population of a little less than 5 million, and is just hungry for smartphones.

Guest post, written by Bashir K. Osman, Lebanese Brand Ambassador for Truecaller.

Lebanon is a small country located in the East Mediterranean boarded to the south by Israel and to the east and north by Syria. It has a population of a little less than 5 million, and is just hungry for smartphones.

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According to a report, which was recently released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, nearly 45% of Lebanese have become smartphone users. Being Lebanese, and understanding how the typical Lebanese mind works, my initial thought after having read the statistic was that people were purchasing smartphones because of the prestige attached to the ownership of specific devices, rather than for the devices functionality. The trend seems to be, acquisition of the device without a proper mobile internet subscription, a cultural phenomenon that is very much evident in Lebanon.

A bit more research into this smartphone statistic made me realize that growing smartphone use in Lebanon is another indicator of the untapped demand for Internet connection in the country, and that smartphones are becoming the de facto way to access the Internet for a large and growing percentage of the population.
Both mobile operators in Lebanon are government-owned, as is most of the country’s fixed infrastructure. As a result, mobile internet prices are still more than double what they are in other Middle East markets. For example, the average 4GB mobile internet package costs roughly US$14 in neighboring Jordan, whereas people in Lebanon are paying US$49 for a 3GB plan.

A recent survey that I did on 250 people over 4 major cities in Lebanon, showed that 37% were Android users, 29% were iOS users, 21% were BlackBerry users and the remaining 13% were a mix of Windows Mobile users and users of older devices. After having discussed the topics in question, and asking them about their favorite and most used apps, I found that an impressive 78% of these people had Truecaller installed on their devices and were active users, using Truecaller on a day to day basis as their go-to app to find mysterious numbers.

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Truecaller has seen some competition in the country, however, remains to be the number one phone directory app used by people because of its user friendly design, simplicity of use, fantastic functionality and integration with relatively every platform available. Truecaller is also very widely used by a majority of the Lebanese mainly because of its accuracy in telling them who is actually calling. It has become so simple for anyone in Lebanon to purchase a SIM card, one can literally walk into a mobile shop, purchase a SIM card with little or no ID and walk out, giving the mobile operators pretty much no idea as to who this SIM card owner is.

Bashir K. Osman
Truecaller Brand Ambassador and founder of BBerryPin.com
Twitter: @BashKOsman

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