Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Mobile Internet Revolution for South Asia
Mobile application developers and high-bandwidth wireless data network operators are being dramatically boosted by latest innovations, growing popularity and rising demand of smartphones such as iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Treo and other mobile platforms. Some 10 percent of phones shipped worldwide — and some 19 percent of phones sold at retail in the United States — are smart-phones. Taiwanese smartphone maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) expects its sales in India to double in 2008, from 100,000 in 2007 to 200,000 in 2008. Although reliable figures are not available, Blackberry is finding traction in Pakistan and HTC is promoting its low-cost smartphones. Overall, there is room for substantial growth. In terms of wireless voice and data, markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia, will continue to grow at a rapid rate, according to an Aug 2008 report by Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd.
Each platform provider is vying for greater developer mindshare and faster wireless networks to add value to its device and gain market share to become the standard in mobile computing and communication. These developments are pulling together all of the necessary ingredients for explosive growth of mobile internet business in the coming decades. Though it's early, this ongoing mobile platform revolution could easily eclipse the PC and Internet revolutions of the 1980s and 1990s. The reason is simple: The cost and convenience of mobile devices makes them much more affordable and useful to a much larger population of the world today.
In an earlier post titled Mobile Internet for Pakistan, I wrote as follows: With the personal computers and the Internet penetration in Pakistan in single digit percentages and the mobile phone penetration approaching 50%, should Pakistanis still aspire primarily for the Western style PC/Internet access model? The answer to this question is clearly a resounding NO. Here is an opportunity for a strategic leapfrog to ubiquitous Internet connectivity via the most prevalent device owned by the largest number of people--the mobile phone. It makes sense from many perspectives: Device cost, connectivity options, electricity availability, usefulness for the vast majority of people, etc.
So what would the mobile internet do for people? Many consumers already use programs that come with their phones to send text messages, browse the web or take and email pictures. In addition to standard widgets like time, temperature, stock prices, and maps, Apple is offering an iTunes like online store called AppsStore that lets users download and install applications. iPhone owners can install programs that let them tune into Internet radio stations or get directions to the nearest gas station.
In future, phones will be able to do a lot more. For example, San Jose Mercury quotes analysts as saying:
1. By simply using your phone's camera to take a picture of a bar code, you will find out instantly whether the store across the street or one online is selling a coffee maker at a lower price than the store you are at.
2. Whenever your bank account dips below a certain balance, your phone will notify you — and allow you with one click to instantly move more money into the account.
3. If you have a medical device implant, you will be able to use your phone to instantly and automatically alert your doctor to any troubling conditions.
4. Your phone will be able to tell you when you need to leave your house or office to make an appointment on time, given existing traffic conditions along your route.
As PC-like standards emerge in the mobile space and all-you-can-eat data services become inexpensive , the natural progression toward cloning and commoditization will happen, thereby making highly useful and multi-functional mobile platforms more affordable and ubiquitous in emerging markets such as India and Pakistan.
Labels: Blackberry, iPhone, Mobile applications, Mobille Internet, Pakistan, South Asia
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Here's a WSJ report on India's $35 iPAD knockoff:
NEW DELHI—First the Nano, now the “Nano” computer.
Tata won praise world-wide for developing the world’s cheapest car, an innovation designed to put millions of Indians behind the wheel. The Indian government Thursday unveiled a computer it hopes will put millions of Indians in front of a keyboard.
As the iPad spreads globally, along with its hefty pricetag, this new computer, aimed at students, costs the same as the country’s cheapest cell phones.
“This is real, tangible and we will take it forward,” Kapil Sibal, minister for human resource development, said at a press conference in New Delhi. The touchscreen tablet will cost about $35, or 1,500 rupees, when it hits markets by early 2011.
The device was developed by students and professors at India’s premier technological institutes, using open-source programming, according to the Associated Press. The Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Mumbai, Chennai and Kharagpur and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore researched it in collaboration with the government-operated National Mission on Education.
The National Mission on Education is working to spread connectivity to India’s universities and colleges.
“We have made the breakthrough and are now ready to capture the market,” Mamta Varma, spokeswoman for the human-resource-development ministry, said Friday.
Ms. Varma said the government plans to roll out one million such computers for university students during the first phase, and expand later to primary and secondary schools.
Last month, Uruguay awarded the nonprofit One Laptop per Child a contract to provide 90,000 of its XO laptops for high-school students in the country. The group hopes in the future to price its durable device around $100; right now it sells for more than that.
India’s new device is an improvement over another hardy computer for the masses launched at Tirupathi in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh last year that had been criticized for its cost, among other things.
Ms. Varma said the ministry has also made open invitation to national and global manufacturers to improve upon the prototype unveiled Thursday. “If more innovations will emerge, the cost of the gadget might be further reduced to $20 or $10,” she said.
The yet-to-be-named device, which has the look of an iPad, has the option of charging by a sleek solar panel. It will have features including an Internet browser, a multimedia player, searchable PDF reader, video conferencing ability and wi-fi connectivity. It is supported by a two-watt backup source for places where power supply may be poor. It also comes with a small, 2-gigabyte memory but no hard disk.
Thanks for the information related to mobile internet..I was looking for the information for my presentation and gather a huge points on it from your post..With this I would like to add some thing that now a days the trend of using the internet on mobile phones has rapidly increased and lots of affords are done from company side to give best service to the customers so that they better stand in the market..
Here's Daily Times on online trading marketplace in Pakistan:
The team at Dekho.com.pk reveals Pakistan’s twin capital cities Rawalpindi/
Islamabad are the trading capitals in online second-hand items with a value of Rs 7,765.7 per capita.
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are followed by Lahore with Rs 6,904.2 per capita and Karachi Rs 1722.3 per capita as compared to Rs 851.37 per capita for Pakistan as a whole.
The Dekho.com.pk team confirmed Lahore has the most valued second hand trade value for cars with an average price of Rs 785,036 followed by Rawalpindi/Islamabad with Rs 761,252 and Karachi with Rs 626,951 possibly owing to Karachi being the first city on port-entry for all second hand imports.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad however proves to be the more technologically ambitious of the cities with an average price of Rs 13,149 for second-hand cellphones, mostly smartphones, followed by Lahore, which has an average value for second hand cellphone trade at Rs 12,526 and Karachi with Rs 11,284. Further analysis reveals with an average price of Rs 21,860,813 for houses in Karachi as compared to Rs 13,566,355 in Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad has one of the lowest average values for houses with an average value of Rs 13,520,168.
Interestingly, the online trading of animals is also actively picking up with Lahore alone providing trading value of Rs 54,804,035 among which dogs and farm animals are the most popular. It also received over 5,700 job postings across Pakistan in these 10 months.
In terms of sheer numbers, Lahore is the online classified trading capital in Pakistan according to Dekho.com.pk with over 47 percent to Rs 75,946,267,779 of the online classified trading market share.
In Pakistan, the use of online shopping or trading mediums is still relatively new and despite this, the figures are so promising.
With over 20 million internet users in Pakistan, Dekho is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing free classifieds websites with a simple aim to provide a credible platform platform for online buyers and sellers to interact.
Here's 2012 BMI research report on consumer electronics market in Pakistan:
BMI expects the Pakistan consumer electronics market will grow by around 9% in 2012, with strongdemand for smartphones, flat screen TV sets, and tablets providing growth, despite an expectedslowdown in private consumption. The Pakistani consumer electronics market has considerable potential,but this is constrained by a large grey market, poor IP protection, an unstable economic and securitysituation, and weak distribution channels. Reforming high national and provincial taxes and tariffs onproducts ranging from computers to prepaid mobile cards would boost the market. The long-term marketdrivers include a rising population and growing affordability and demand for consumer electronics goodsis also influenced by trends from Middle Eastern markets.
Headline Expenditure Projections Computer sales: US$309mn in 2011 to US$331mn in 2012, +7% inUS dollar terms. Forecast in US dollar terms upwardly revised, despite a high level of illegal imports.AV sales: US$645mn in 2011 to US$710mn in 2012, +10% in US dollar terms. Forecast in US dollarterms upwardly revised, with the main driver being demand for flat-screen TV sets.
Handset sales: US$750mn in 2011 to US$816mn in 2012, +12% in US dollar terms. Forecast in USdollar terms upwardly revised, but despite the popularity of smartphones, most handsets are sold at lessthan US$50.
Risk/Reward Rating: Pakistan’s score was 28 out of 100.0, with low CE market and Country Structureratings dragging down high Potential Returns. Pakistan took thirteenth place in our latest RRR table, buthas potential to rise over time due to the size of the market.
Key Trends & Developments
The TV sets segment is forecast to grow at a CAGR of about 12% as consumers replace blackand white, and analogue sets with colour and LCD models. About 49% of TV sets sold each yearare still black and white. If the government is unable to crack down on smuggled goods, growthcould be slower than this.
PC vendors must contend with a significant segment of demand being met by imports of usedcomputers from countries such as China. The government has denied reports it plans ban importsof used computers, which is a measure strongly opposed by local retailers. The price differentialbetween an imported second-hand computer and a new one is considerable, according to localimporters.
In 2012, established brands will hope to regain some market share as a result of thegovernment’s recent ban on imported handsets without IMEI numbers. Low-cost Chinesephones are understood to account for around 30% of the local handset market. According toretailer reports, although the ban hit sales of low-cost Chinese handsets, Chinese reacted quicklyto the new circumstances. Meanwhile, established vendors are targeting the low-price tier withproducts offering dual-SIM support and other features that have proved popular for the low-costbrands.
Here's Businessweek on PTCL profitability:
Pakistan Telecommunications Co. (PTC), the country’s biggest phone-service provider, forecast a return to profit by its fiscal fourth quarter as workers opting for early retirement cut labor costs.
“We will return to profitability after we absorb the cost of retiring employees,” Naveed Saeed, senior executive vice president for the Islamabad-based company’s commercial unit, said in an interview on Oct. 22. “Our revenue growth is strong and we are really trying to contain the costs.”
Pakistan Telecom has struggled to increase revenue from its fixed-line unit as mobile-phone operators including Telenor ASA (TEL) and China Mobile Ltd. (941) grab market share. The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users jumped more than ninefold in the past seven years in the country of 180 million people.
Profitability for Pakistan Telecom was hurt in the first quarter as it absorbed the cost of a voluntary retirement progam that reduced its workforce by between 5,000 and 6,000 employees, Saeed said at the company’s headquarters. A similar program in 2008 saw 35,000 of 50,000 employees retire early.
Saeed forecast 7 percent sales growth for the current financial year, which ends in June. That’s higher than the 6.4 percent average annual revenue growth for Pakistan Telecom in the past five fiscal years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About half of the company’s revenue goes to paying salaries for an estimated 25,000 permanent and contractual employees.
Pakistan Telecom fell 3.3 percent to 18.57 rupees yesterday. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 79 percent, compared with an advance of about 40 percent for the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index.
Pakistan Telecom, controlled by Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT), posted a loss of 8.26 billion rupees ($86.4 million) in the three months through September, its first quarterly loss in more than four years. That compared with a profit of 2.23 billion rupees a year earlier.
Fixed-line users fell to 2.9 million last year from the peak of 5.2 million in Pakistan Telecom’s financial year that ended in June 2005, as more people switched to mobile phones.
The number of mobile-phone users in the country grew to 119.8 million as of May this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecom Authority.
“They will be back to profit by the end of this year,” said Ayub Ansari, a Karachi-based analyst at AKD Securities, in a telephone interview. “There has been a steady growth in their core businesses. The cellular segment continues to grow, plus the broadband segment is also very exciting. That’s the next big thing for Pakistan and PTCL in particular.”
Pakistan Telecom derives most of its sales from the broadband unit, which has more than 1 million customers and contributes about 25 percent to profit, Saeed said. Aqeel Shigri, a spokesman, said the unit has a market share of 90 percent.
The company, which also owns the country’s third-largest mobile-phone operator Ufone, plans to bid for 3G bandwidth licenses the government plans to auction this financial year, Saeed said.
Here's an Express Tribune piece on how the Punjab govt in Pakistan is using smartphones ad mobile apps:
As our anti-dengue campaign progressed, we bought 1,500 Android phones and kept refining our applications. The system was used by 17 different government departments and hundreds of field workers, and we have received over 200,000 pictures from all over Punjab. We developed more applications that enabled field entomologists to report Aedes Larvae clusters, as well as health workers to GPS tag the houses of the confirmed patients. With this data flowing in, we built a state-of-the-art epidemic early warning system, which statistically analysed the larvae reports and patient locations, and raised red flags wherever it detected a potential outbreak. This information was promptly shared with the local government to help it target its activities in the most vulnerable areas.
This system has led to a full-blown real-time disease surveillance system in Punjab, tracking all 26 WHO notifiable infectious diseases. Cross-verification of data from our dashboard has become a common practice in the government. The system has been featured by the MIT Technology Review, The Economist, NPR and BBC.
Encouraged by the success of our system for tracking disease outbreaks, the PITB has been working on numerous applications to help the government monitor its own work. Drug inspectors now carry our smartphones to report their visits to pharmacy outlets; visits of livestock EDOs are tracked using our smartphone applications; Lahore police uses our smartphone applications to analyse crime hotspots; agriculture extension workers report their activities using our smartphone applications; the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) uses smartphone applications to report its cleaning activities after Eidul Azha; this year, monitoring of Hajj facilities for pilgrims was done using our smartphone-based applications. Such is the adoption of our systems that over 25,000 geo-tagged activities were uploaded by the LWMC during the three-day Eid campaign a few days ago. And the chief minister Punjab personally reviewed this data, after every hour!
Going forward, we are developing a platform, in collaboration with the World Bank, which would enable people without an IT background to generate a monitoring application by simply dragging-and-dropping components. We are experimenting with increasingly advanced features. For example, our application for the irrigation department is designed such that the picture of a depth-metre is automatically processed to extract the level of water in a canal — making it difficult to hide the theft of irrigation water in tail canals.
Our model of mobile governance, or m-governance, is quickly taking root in Punjab. The rapid adoption, level of innovation and sophistication of our evolving systems is unprecedented in public sector organisations, especially in developing countries. In the coming year, seven major government departments will heavily start using our smartphone-based monitoring systems — employing over 30,000 smartphones. If we manage to keep our momentum, Pakistan may become one of the leading examples of innovations in m-governance.
Here are World Bank reported highlights of the use of mobile phone technology in Pakistan:
The Punjab provincial government’s efforts so far include getting direct feedback from 3 million users of public services through SMS and providing field workers cost-effective smartphones to track their visits and collect data, including to monitor pests on crops, fighting dengue, and managing waste.
A recently-approved project will scale up these activities using innovative financing that emphasizes results, takes a multi-sectoral approach, and increases transparency and citizen access to information, improving citizen-state relations.
This model of innovative and sophisticated mobile governance is almost unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries, and represents one of the largest-scale attempts to hear from citizens to crack down on corrupt and poor performing officials.
#Visa QR #mobile payments coming to #Indonesia, #Pakistan, #Vietnam
Visa will soon be expanding its QR-based mobile payment service to ten more markets, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
The service, named mVisa, is now live in India, Kenya and Rwanda, and will soon be available to merchants and consumers in the three new APAC markets, as well as Egypt, Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria.
mVisa, a mobile solution, aims to provide easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers in emerging markets.
The service is designed to help merchants overcome infrastructure issues by allowing consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application.
mVisa digitizes the underlying account and allows consumers to transfer funds from their account to the retailer’s account reliably and securely by scanning a QR code.
Use cases of mVisa include the allowing subscribers of Tata Sky, a direct-to-home service provider in India, to recharge their account by using their mobile phones to scan the WR code directly from the TV screen or online. This function allows Tata Sky customers to order and pay for monthly or one-time services from home without having to visit a physical retail outlet.
Mahanagar Gas Limited, a utility provider in Mumbai, also issues customer bills printed with the mVisa QR code. Customers scan the QR code on the bill, as they would at a merchant outlet, and complete their transaction at their leisure.
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