Take physic, pomp

Hanging on the telephone

So how does this work again? What are the prescribed images thrown at us about certain LatAm countries? Let’s try a quick pigeon-holing or two:

  • Chile: Yeah, all serious and advanced and rich and stuff
  • Argentina: Reckless and behind the times and suffering
  • Peru: The growth miracle and worthy of investment grade
  • Brazil: The regional powerhouse and a nation of shoppers
  • Venezuela: Stagnating due to communist rule, moving backwards while others advance

Sound kinda familiar? Well let’s see how the 21st century’s most rampant piece of technology, the cellular phone, has made inroads into the LatAm market.

In its latest quarterly report, Telefonica de España (TEF) maps out the cellular market penetration of its eight key LatAm markets for 2007 and 2008. Here’s a chart I made of the Telefonica figures.

Click to enlarge
So, what do we have?
  • Number one is Argentina! Wow, 110% penetration* and a fully mature market. Hoodathunkit?
  • Next we have….errrr…well, it’s Venezuela, isn’t it? Up 14% in just one year, so there must be a tiny smidgeon of disposible income left over after those downtrodden class warriors have stocked up at Mercal, no?
  • Third is Chile. Well at least that one doesn’t surprise, as Chile is now a nigh on mature wireless market.
  • And so on and so on. Note that the two biggest markets by absolute volume of handsets, Brazil and Mexico, still have plenty of growth left in them.
  • And what’s that one coming up the rear? Oh yeah, it’s that investment grade country…y’know, the one with 40% of people living on U$2 per day. The one that is made out to be the new spearhead of modern society.
As usual, the facts point out that English language media coverage of LatAm is a crock. Argentina and Venezuela the most advanced cellular markets and clearly with the money to spend. Peru lagging way behind and still scrimping to make that call. Any questions?

*Please don’t bother me with the “more than 100% penetration is impossible” argument again. Have a look in your house for that second pre-paid phone you have from a couple of years ago and think about it.

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