Is Religion the New Mobile Bazaar? Malaysian Company Markets to Islam

by Matt Klassen on April 12, 2011

We’ve heard of dedicated marketing strategies aimed at very specific demographics before, with TELUS and its CAYA stores geared towards the LGBTQ community or Rogers developing cellphone plans designed for Seniors, but a new entrant in the Malaysian mobile market is taking targeted marketing in a new direction with a mobile marketing campaign geared specifically towards a religion, in this case, Islam.

While religion and technology have often had a tumultuous relationship in the past, faith groups around the world have been increasingly turning towards technological mediums to assist them in getting their message out to a broader audience. For Malaysian-based Salamfone, however, the focus of its new Islam-oriented products and corporate philosophy is not on the external world per se, but instead on the inner self, acting as an agent to assist people in following Islam’s Shariah law.

Although we may scoff at such religiously motivated business practices here in North America, if Salamfone’s focused endeavours to reach the Muslim population in Malaysia are successful, how long will it be before religions around the world dive headfirst into the mobile market? How long before we see the world’s first “Christian” phone?

While I cringe at the thought of what such an ad campaign would look like for a “Christian” phone, the attraction of Kuwait’s Reach Telecom subsidiary Salamfone (roughly translated as “peace phone”)  for the Malaysian Muslim population is not simply in its products, as truth be told, there’s only so much one can do to make a phone specifically “Muslim,” but in the company’s philosophy built on Islamic principles, offering, in its own words, “first rate mobile services with the certainty of transparency and integrity in all our interactions.” Muslim or not, I think we can all see the attraction in that.

In fact, Salamfone boasts—in the humblest of way mind you—that it is the only mobile operator in the world to be guided by Islam’s Shariah law, adhering to the principles like giving regular donations to charities and abiding by the teachings of the Qur’an. Beyond this, Salamfone has established a dedicated helpline to answer questions on Islam, offer free subscriptions to religious texts, and, as a mobile provider, Islamic ringtones for its phones (one among many religious mobile features already available throughout Europe and the Middle East).

It should come as no surprise to hear that the market for such a Shariah-compliant company and its Islam-oriented phones is the Malaysian Muslim population and visitors, as SE Asia sports the largest concentration of Muslims anywhere in the world, far outnumbering the Muslim population of the Middle East. But Salamfone hopes that everyone, not just Muslims, can benefit from its religiously motivated business practices.

As the company’s simple website explains, “Guided by Shariah principles, we are set to transform the perceptions of telecommunications through our community-focused service offerings that cater to everyone’s needs, across all walks of life.  We believe that improving people’s access to the world will empower them to attain a better quality of life.”

Think what you will about Islam, about Islamic ringtones, about religiously-focused marketing, heck, about religion in general, the thought of a little community-focused service on the part of my mobile provider, or any company for that matter, is truly welcome; heck, it sure beats the devilishly clever business practices I’ve experienced to this point. 

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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