Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Apple iPhone 6, 6Plus Launched in Pakistan

Pakistani cell phone service operator Ufone has partnered with Apple to launch iPhone 6 and iPhone 6Plus smartphones in Pakistan. Ufone customers can register online for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at the company’s website.

Smartphone sales have accelerated in recent months after the roll-out of 3G and 4G services in Pakistan. The number of 3G subscribers has reached 4 million mark, apparently surpassing all other broadband technologies in the country, within the first three months of the issuance of 3G and 4G licenses in the country. There are around 3.7 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan for all technologies combined including WiMAX, DSL, EvDO, FTTH, Satellite, HFC and others till May this year.

Total number of mobile subscribers in Pakistan is over 150 million. A growing number of these subscribers are smartphone owners who are using web services like e-commerce and social media. Gertjan van Laar, an app developer who recently published a report on smartphone usage in Pakistan, told Tech in Asia that smartphone penetration has reached between 7 and 10 percent of the population – in contrast to the general mobile penetration rate of 80 percent.

Here are some of the highlights of the report on smartphones in Pakistan:

1. Android is Pakistan’s top smartphone OS with 68 percent share just among smartphone users

2. Apple iOS is second with 24 percent share; Windows Phone is third at eight percent

3. Samsung is the top brand; iPhone is second; homegrown phone-maker QMobile is third

4.  35 percent  of smartphone users in Pakistan own a low-cost phone.

Growing availability of smartphones  and 3G/4G services is enabling Pakistani apps developers to build and offer a wide range of apps, including everything from the most-used messaging apps to social networking, games, entertainment, government, banking, business and finance, navigation and utility apps, such as budgeting and data backing, according to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper. In addition to software houses, an active community of mostly self-taught freelance app developers is also bidding for projects listed on global online platforms, such as oDesk, Elance, Guru and Freelancer, the paper adds.

Increasing access to advanced smartphones and mobile broadband augurs well for innovation and investment in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Broadband in Pakistan

Pakistan Government Deploys Mobile Apps

Telecom and Media Boom in Pakistan

Mobile Money Revolution in Pakistan

Smartphones in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Among Top Outsourcing Destinations

Pakistan Starts Tablet PC Production

Pakistan Launches 100 Mbps FTTH Service


Riaz Haq said...

KARACHI: Pakistan has always been on the radar – for good reasons and bad. When it comes to online shopping and advertising portals, the market seems ripe to invest.
Foreign investors, keen to expand in other countries, have seen South Asia as a lucrative market with its bulging population and growth in internet penetration. Rocket Internet is one of the foreign companies that have made their presence felt in Pakistan, taking on local competition with its aggressive expansion strategy. Backed by heavy investments, the German based e-commerce focused venture capital firm and startup incubator has captured a share in the country’s growing market.
The company has given stiff competition to leading portals in various spheres including, and with clones including carmudi, lamudi and clones. Since the start of their operation in 2012, they have doubled the number of their ventures, pouring in millions of euros.
During his visit to Karachi, Asia Internet Holding co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Koeen Thijssen said that Pakistan has the most number of ventures opposed to the rest of the Asian countries Rocket Internet has invested in. Asia Internet Holding, a joint venture between Rocket Internet and Qatar-based Ooredoo, builds and funds startups across Asia, particularly focusing on ecommerce and mobile services. The core focus is emerging economies in Asia, particularly Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
He said Rocket Internet will pump €180 million during the next three to four years as investment in Asia, declining to quote even a ballpark figure for Pakistan’s share.
“But a major chunk will be invested in Pakistan,” he said.
Recently, – based on the amazon model – included the electronics category on its online shopping store. “The response has been very good with almost 100 iphones sold in a matter of seven days.
“The profit margins in electronics are very low. The local sellers did not have the platform, skills or the delivery network to sell in high volumes, so they go through us.”
The co-CEO said Pakistan is an interesting case because most of the local ventures are headed by Pakistani nationals, while in the rest of the Asian countries, expats tend to head the ventures. “It’s very unique for Pakistan. It seems that the country naturally has the entrepreneurial gene,” he said, appreciating the country’s workforce. “It’s difficult for expats to recognize local market mechanics.”
When asked about the company’s market strategy, he said, “It is simple; it aims at transparency by providing comparable prices on its websites. We are also using market place strategy for all our ventures,” Thijssen added.
Internationally, the German company – owned by the Samwer brothers– is criticised for its business model that focuses on replicating successful ventures rather than coming up with genuine ideas.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani Investors: Invest in Local Technology Startups NOW!
I believe that the technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in Pakistan is at a tipping point! There are a number of factors at play that make Pakistan so ripe for both local and international investors looking to invest in the tech space:
Quickly growing internet adoption currently estimated to be 25 million internet users and 15 million mobile internet users;
Cheap smart phone devices costing under $50;
3G and 4G rollouts;
Massive amounts of marketing and media spend by companies like Rocket Internet, Schibsted, and Naspers that’s targeted to make Pakistani consumers comfortable transacting online;
Development of platforms like The Foundation at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship and Plan9 that are supporting passionate entrepreneurs during their formative years;
Slow but steady investments flowing into startups at seed (e.g. Kima Ventures investment into Eyedeus Labs) and early stage (Frontier Digital Venture’s US$3.5 Million investment into PakWheels...) from local and foreign angels as well as early-stage funds;
Tens of millions of dollars being poured into developing pervasive electronic and online payment infrastructure in Pakistan (you have to take my word for it, but telcos and major banks will soon start announcing these plays);
Successful entrepreneurs returning from abroad and providing mentoring to startups and building bridges for them outside of Pakistan;
Gradual realization by seasoned businessmen and young aspiring entrepreneurs alike that internet has a massive equalizing power and they can tap into a global market of billions through online channels;
Low cost of starting a technology business due to easy access to cloud computing platforms; massive distribution channels like the PlayStore, AppStore and Facebook; ability to create very targeted online marketing campaigns; inexpensive outsourcing of development tasks to freelancers; and quick feedback from customers to iterate and improve the products and services;
Ease of doing a tech business in Pakistan compared to the red tape and bureaucracy that has to be dealt with while setting up an industry (in fact, software exports still enjoy a complete tax holiday in Pakistan);
Excellent leverage on HR that tech (product) businesses provide compared to any other business and we all know that good HR is a constraint anywhere in the world;
And lastly, because tech businesses are not as widely impacted by security, electric power shortfalls, gas load-shedding and others infrastructure issues plaguing the rest of the industries in Pakistan.
You inject a bit of capital to catalyze all this further in the 6th most populous (196 Million) country in the world, and we can have a perfect storm that can turn the Pakistani technology startups of today into the giant global businesses of tomorrow!

Riaz Haq said...

Key TTP commander killed, two Mangal Bagh aides rounded up based on intelligence acquired by intercepting mobile phone calls

Technical spying, a safer and cheaper alternative to human spies, being used in over 90pc counter-terrorism offensives

Over 90 per cent of the recent operations conducted by the Pakistan Army and Air Force against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliate terror outfits in tribal agencies are technical-intelligence driven, Pakistan Today has learnt.

“Human intelligence has been taken over by technical intelligence mostly acquired through mobile phone interception and the same is happening in Pakistan now,” said a senior security official.

“The operations conducted against TTP commander Mustafa alias Mannan in Peshawar and the arrest of two aides of Mangal Bagh in Abbottabad were based on intelligence acquired through mobile phone interception,” the source added.

On Friday, security forces killed five militants including Mustafa, the brother of Usman Naray who masterminded the attack on Army Public School and College Peshawar, during an encounter in Koi Hassan Khel area of Peshawar Frontier Region. Mustafa was the chief of TTP Darra Adamkhel region.

Moreover, the security forces also rounded up two commanders of Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-e-Islam terror outfit from Abbottabad.

With the residents of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) evacuating their houses and army taking on the terrorists directly, human intelligence has become a very ‎risky business which is why the security forces have resorted to technical intelligence.

“Though we have ground sources which provide information about the whereabouts and movement of the militants yet the major sources of credible information are tracking and scanning mobile phone communication,” the source said.

Locals present in NWA, Tirah, Shawal, Khyber and Orakzai agencies are still coordinating with security forces by providing valuable information to the armed forces, said the source.

“However, human intelligence constitutes only 10 to 20 per cent of the total intelligence activities while the major sources of information are mobile phone intercepts. The threat alerts you get on daily basis are mostly based on mobile phone intercepts and this information needs to be verified by ground sources,” he said.

The source said that whenever a drone strikes in areas controlled by militants, mobile phone intercepts are the main source of confirmation of killings as the militants communicated with each other and were easily tracked down.

However, the information gathered through human sources and technological activities together make a success story, the source opined.

When contacted, defence analyst Brigadier (r) Asad Munir said that in the post 9/11 scenario, mobile phone scanning and other technical gadgets had replaced foot soldiers.

“Though human intelligence is still valid in the changing times but technical intelligence is cheaper and easier,” he said, adding that the information acquired through modern gadgets was relatively more credible and accurate. Besides, the risks involved in technical intelligence are minimal, he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Warid Telecom has officially announced launch of its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) services in Pakistan. The service will be initially available in six cities including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad from Friday (today).

The company will offer a free LTE trial to its customers for seven days following the commercial launch and charge Rs5 per MB for data transactions afterwards.

The commercial launch of Warid’s LTE services came following a month of unlimited 4G LTE trials to its postpaid customers in the abovementioned six cities.

Company’s customers have been notified regarding the conclusion of unlimited trials and tariffs for data transaction through SMS, emails as well as automated calls.

“Over the years, Warid Telecom has developed a reputation for breaking new ground in Pakistan’s mobile landscape. We have always remained at the forefront of innovation: our decision to transform directly from 2G to LTE technology is a reflection of this spirit of innovation,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Warid Telecom, Mr. Muneer Farooqui, said while speaking on the launch.

Ericsson, a leading hardware provider for telecommunication services, is Warid Telecom’s partner for rollout of LTE network in Pakistan.

Farooqui said Warid has earmarked US 500 million dollars for the development of infrastructure to roll out 4G LTE in the country in next five years.

“Moving forward to 2015 and beyond, we will continue to invest in premium technologies and network infrastructure to ensure service excellence to our patrons who have always held us close to their hearts,” he said.

Warid was the only mobile company which had not participated in government’s 34/4G auction, held in April, and has directly switched from 2G services to 4G-LTE technology with its available spectrum that it had purchased in 2004.

Zong, the only company to have bagged the license of 4G spectrum in the auction, had launched its 4G LTE services in seven major cities in September.

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s telecommunication sector sold five million high-speed mobile Internet connections within five months of acquiring third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum licenses with China Mobile Pakistan (Zong) dominating the market, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority revealed on Monday in its first ever public report on 3G and 4G subscriptions.

Riaz Haq said...

First up, I would like to share few statistical data about the IT industry. Pakistan Software Export Board has updated the statistics and they are now claiming Pakistan’s export share to be USD 2.8 billion in 2014. I would not debate the value which they have claimed as it is always a pride to see the growth in IT sector. It was also seen that start-ups have taken a leap frog and there has been over 200% growth recorded in new start-ups coming up in 2014. Additionally, this year also marked significant success internationally where developers and start-ups won top awards and recognition globally.

On the policy front, Ministry of IT (MoIT), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority have floated a draft of new policies to Telecom & IT industry for creating a mutually beneficial policy document. Although Youtube remains blocked throughout 2014 as well but with this policy there is a hope of its revival in 2015. The major success of MoIT & PTA came through (finally) auctioning of 3G & 4G spectrum licenses to mobile service operators. This generated revenue of over USD 1.0 billion for Government of Pakistan. This is also our first sector in review this year.

Globally 3G mobile internet service has been in place for a few years now and Pakistan was one of the few countries left where this service was yet to see the daylight. Finally, 2014 was the year where the entire nation found a reason to cherish after auction and subsequent launch of mobile broadband services by all but one mobile operator. Zong was the only operator with both 3G & 4G spectrums and Warid pulled a cheeky one by not buying the spectrum license and utilizing an already vacant spectrum. Although Mobilink, Ufone, Zong are one way or the other claiming reaching 1.0 million subscribers but little that general public knows that it is a figure for people using “free” 3G services. Telenor on the other hand is focusing on expanding its reach and is adding cities rapidly. Warid is testing its 4G LTE service in Lahore, Karachi & Islamabad but there have been reports of patchy and unreliable service. What I don’t understand is that except for Telenor, not even a single company is promoting what 3G or 4G will be used for. Until and unless they have applications and services available which take advantage of mobile broadband, this will remain a service on which subscribers will be watching Youtube or Dailymotion like services. Over the Top (OTT) based services, which includes but not limited to Video, calling over WiFi and localized Skype like services. On the other hand, creating localized app stores will also jump the uptake and revenues for telcos as the subscriber can pay monthly subscription and company can save on Internet bandwidth.

Moving on to the IT sector, 2014 was the year where we saw massive growth in new start-ups working their way up to the applications & services development scene. In recent Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) held in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Pakistani companies bagged 5 awards (2 Gold & 3 Silver). This is an achievement from 2013 where Pakistani software houses only managed to bag 4 silver medals. This year around the quality and quantity of software houses was definitely a notch above last year. P@sha has always been the advocate of promoting software houses and developers in Pakistan and in 2014 P@sha went a step ahead and aggressively supported them internationally as well. The Government of Pakistan must take notice of the efforts and extend its full support to P@sha along with the credit which is long due. PSEB, a Government answer to “support” likes to visit international exhibitions and boast numbers but it is P@sha which is making it possible for all software houses and IT services companies to unite on a single platform....

Riaz Haq said...

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) earned Rs105 billion or $1 billion (based on Thursday’s exchange rates) in fees from all licensees as total investment in the telecom sector crossed $1.8 billion during fiscal year 2014 (FY14), the telecom regulator revealed in its annual report.
According to the data, figures for telecom investment rose three times from $600 million, the level it achieved in FY13.
Almost half of the $1.8 billion was in the form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow to the telecom sector that spent over $903 million on purchasing 3G and 4G licences and upgrading their infrastructure during the review period. FDI in the telecom sector alone accounted for more than half of the country’s total FDI ($1.6 billion in FY14).

Telecom sector revenues for FY14 clocked in at Rs465 billion, as it contributed Rs243.84 billion to the national kitty in that year – an all-time high in tax contribution by the sector.
Overall, the telecom imports in FY14 crossed $1.23 billion, of which 44.4% was for the imports of consumer items, such as cellular mobile handsets, according to the data.
As cellular operators and the consumers geared up for 3G and 4G services, the country witnessed record imports of $544 million of cellular mobile handsets and $682 million worth of telecom equipment, registering growth of 20.7% and 30.3% respectively, the report said.
Revealing statistics about the market share of cellular mobile operators (CMOs), the report added that Mobilink led the market with 27.7% subscriber share as of June 30, 2014 followed by Telenor (26.1%), Zong (19.4%), Ufone (17.4%) and Warid (9.3%).
On the enforcement front, the report said that the PTA addressed 98% of the total complaints in FY14. The telecom received a total of 36,092 complaints against telecom service providers including CMOs, PTCL, Long Distance Internationals, Wireless Local Loop operators and ISPs in the period under review, up from 29,714 complaints it received during the corresponding period of FY13. About 61% complaints were made against CMOs and 37% were made against the broadband giant PTCL, which holds a whopping 80% share in the broadband market.
Grey Telephony was another area where the regulator intensified its enforcement in FY14. PTA and FIA jointly conducted a total of 62 raids across the country during the period, arrested 52 people and confiscated 327 illegal gateway equipments in different cities of Pakistan, the report said.
The report further highlighted that as many as 539,024 Sims were blocked during FY14 – mobile numbers involved in illegal call termination (Grey Traffic) were identified and blocked through various means including heavy caller data and call centre reporting.

Riaz Haq said...

KARACHI: For Pakistan’s mobile telecommunication companies, data services have turned out to be a cash cow. With increased use of mobile social applications and over-the-top (OTT) services that allow free messaging and calls in the country, the telecom sector witnessed a strong growth in its revenues from data services in fiscal year 2014 (FY14).
Data revenues of telecom sector clocked in at Rs90 billion during FY14, registering a growth of 24.6% – more than double of 11.66% as of FY2013 – Pakistan Telecommunication Authority revealed in its annual report earlier this week.

The cellular mobile segment was the main catalyst, accounting for more than half of the telecom sector’s overall revenues. The data revenues of cellular mobile operators (CMOs) reached Rs47 billion during the year under review, translating to a year-on-year growth of 47.4%.
“This is a healthy sign in the wake of 3G and 4G services in the country and shows that the use of internet and data services on the cellular mobile has been increasing,” the telecom regulator said in its annual report.
As of June 30, 2014 data revenues account for 19.3% of the telecom sector’s overall revenue, up from 16.4% at the end of FY13 – the number for cellular segment, too, increased from 7.3% to 10.1%.
Changing trend
According to PTA, the data revenue trend is likely to continue in the coming years with increased use of smart phones, tablets and laptops in the consumer market and an uptake of OTT services, such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook messenger, which will eventually replace traditional voice communication.
Import of mobile phones showed record growth in FY14 as handsets worth $544 million were imported during the period, a 21% year-on-year increase.
Although voice traffic continued to show impressive growth (40%) in FY2014, conventional text messages – one of the main revenue streams for cellular mobile segment – struggled against the more popular social media applications.
The total number of SMS exchanged over the cellular mobile networks dropped to 301.7 billion during FY2014, down 4% compared to 315.7 billion last year, statistics showed. The average SMS per cellular subscriber per month also reduced to 180 in FY14 compared to 214 of FY13.
The telecom regulator attributed the decline in conventional text based messages to the rising influx of smart phones and use of mobile internet, OTT and social media applications that have reduced the subscribers’ dependence on traditional mode of SMS.
Though these OTT services have triggered the growth of CMOs’ data revenues, free messaging and calling services also dented the sector’s average revenue per user (ARPU), a key economic indicator to measure the average revenue that service providers generate from a single subscriber.
“The considerable drop in ARPU signifies the prevailing tough economic environment in the country,” PTA said in the report, adding, “The increase of withholding tax from 10% to 15% in June, 2013 also limited the subscriber usage patterns.”
Explain further, the telecom regulator said stiff competition and tariff wars also affected the revenue generation of CMOs.
“The increasing use of smart communication applications via internet is slowly eroding the need for traditional SMS and voice calls,” the PTA said. “Therefore, it is imperative for the cellular mobile operators to focus on providing innovative data services and promote the use of mobile broadband that could help improve ARPUs significantly.”
The PTA, however, added that the recent introduction of next-generation mobile broadband services would help increase the revenues of the cellular operators.

Riaz Haq said...

Mobilink, Pakistan’s leading provider of voice and data services with over 37 million subscribers, in collaboration with Samsung has exclusively launched the highly anticipated Samsung S6 and S6 Edge smartphones for customers.

The launch coincides with Samsung S6 and S6 Edge global launch and is in line with Mobilink’s strategy of introducing the latest devices to the market.

This launch will provide customers with the opportunity to experience Mobilink’s superior 3G and voice services on one of the most innovative smartphone till date. With every purchase of the Samsung S6 and S6 Edge, Mobilink will provide its users free 1 GB data per month for a period of 12 months.

Aamer Manzoor, Head of Data, Mobilink commenting on the launch said, “The launch of 3G services in Pakistan has made inroads to consistently introduce the most appealing and innovative handsets. This exclusive collaboration with Samsung is another step in enhancing Mobilink’s 3G device portfolio in the market. The launch of Samsung S6 and S6 Edge will enable and empower our customers to use Next Generation Mobile Services with unprecedented mobile experience and the best data offers on the go.”

Farid Ullah Jan, Head of Mobile Phone Division, Samsung Pakistan while commenting on this launch said, “We are extremely excited to introduce Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge for the first time in Pakistan. Samsung mobile has really gone back to the drawing board this past year, and the result is one of the most significant efforts in Samsung history. In a very big way, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge is result of our mission to redefine the GALAXY brand. We started from scratch and imagined an entirely NEW design with never-before-seen technology, and next level enterprise solutions.”

S6 Edge is the world’s first dual edge display phone with one of the most colorful displays in the market. The Quad HD Super AMOLED display makes the display appear brighter and sharper. Samsung S6 has a state-of-the-camera with a 16 MP resolution. Samsung users can enjoy superior productivity via 64-bit processor and Android Lollipop OS. The processor is the first ever 14 nm processor in the smartphone market providing extended battery power. Mobilink customers can purchase the phone from their nearest Mobilink Business Centers.

Riaz Haq said...

#Android One QMobile A1 #smartphone arrives in #Pakistan. Priced at Rs 11,500 (US$ 112) …

Android One may not have shot to success, but Google isn’t giving up on its long term plan for the project. Responding to requests from social media, Google has announced that the new QMobile A1 smartphone is now available to purchase in Pakistan.

In a bit of a change from previous Android One releases, the QMobile A1 will be available in retail stores up and down the country, rather than placing a heavy emphasis on e-commerce. The lack of a shelf presence is suspected to be one of the reasons why Android One hasn’t been able to grab a notable market share so far.

Hardware wise, the handset’s specifications remain firmly in the budget category, but that’s what we should expect for Rs. 11,500. The QMobile A1 comes with a 4.5-inch 854×480 display, unspecified 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 5MP rear camera with LED flash, 2MP front facing camera, and 8GB of storage with a microSD card slot for a further 32GB.

There’s also dual SIM support, a 1,700mAh battery and Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. Sadly the A1 is not 4G compatible, but the phone still matches up with other handsets at this price point.

The QMobile A1’s selling point is being touted as lightning fast updates to the latest version of Android as soon as they are available. A promise made with previous Android One phones. We’ll just have to see if updates appear faster this time around.

In other Android One news, a second wave is rumored to be heading to India. Local smartphone company Lava is expected to unveil a new smartphone on July 14th.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's #Smartphone Giant #Xiaomi is Officially Launching in #Pakistan on Feb 20 via @phoneworldpk

The launch event is going to happen in Islamabad. Smart Link has also announced that Xiaomi’s other eco products will also launch in Pakistan like bluetooth speakers, power banks etc . So, now customers can get all products of Xiaomi in Pakistan.

Earlier, PTA has restricted the sale/ purchase of Xiaomi smartphones in Pakistan. According to PTA Xiaomi is not obeying the country’s law and rules. Moreover, An IT expert, Rafay Baloch, also pointed out on Facebook that Xiaomi phones were allegedly stealing user data and sending it to Chinese servers.

Then soon Xiaomi officials announced in a Public Notice that PTA has withdrawn the ban from its product. In that Public Notice, Xiaomi said:

We would like to clarify that Xiaomi has not officially launched the sale of its smartphones in Pakistan. The ban proposed to be enforced by PTA is specifically targeting the unauthorized resellers who had been unofficially selling Xiaomi products in Pakistan, without complying with the necessary legal formalities.
Later on, PTA has confirmed that any company with official approval can sale smartphones in Pakistan and same is the case with Xiaomi.

We all know that, Xiaomi is famous for launching high-end smartphones at low rate. Not only Xiaomi, many other Chinese smartphone manufacturer has launched smartphones at low rate. This is a big reason why people are hyped up about Xiaomi’s official entry in Pakistan.