iPhone in Jakarta starring Reza

unnamed

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is talk to locals. This is Reza. He is 22 years old from Solo, a region in the Central Java region of Indonesia. Java, by the way, is stunning. Google the images and prepare for your minds to be blown. But I digress.

Reza moved to Jakarta for university, and attends school during the day, works in a restaurant until midnight every day. He has been saving for an iPhone and is planning to purchase one some time soon. Not the 6. Not the 5s even. He is excited for the iPhone 5. Right now, I don’t even know the kind of phone he has.

I didn’t want to ask him how much he makes, but according to Salary Explorer, average restaurant worker salary in Jakarta is 7,400,000 IDR a month (appx: $600 USD).

Reza is only one of the many people I have talked with, to further understand the Indonesian — well Jakartan — market.

We all know the population is high. The GDP is through the roof. I’ve questioned people’s excitement about Indonesia in the past, but after experiencing Jakarta, I must admit, I am now a believer in this market too.

Indonesian people rapidly adapt to new technologies and have a willingness to learn — even, if they cannot currently afford to own devices and such to get them online or make their day to days easier with technology. I am thrilled to be here and look forward to sharing more on the ground stories of Indonesia.

Flip-phones: Only in Japan

People who live outside of Japan find it hard to believe when I tell them: YES, Japanese people still use flip-phones. And YES, they reside in Tokyo.

Flip-phone sightings happen daily but since I get asked the same questions a lot, I finally took photographic evidence.

This particular young gentleman was in his late to early 30’s, working on his Macbook Pro. He caught my eye because his Pro was up and running with connection, owned an iPhone (see photographic proof *points below)…

unnamed-2

 

…yet he chose to e-mail from his dinosaur flip-phone.

unnamed-1

 

I wish I was slick enough to take photos of him navigating the iPhone… he was like a 65 year old man using an iPad for the first time. He held his iPhone upwards, tightly gripped with his left hand. And he was typing with one finger — his right pointer finger to be precise — but the gestures OMG. He was basically stabbing the iPhone screen, tapping the screen so hard he had to grip with his left harder and harder. So exhausting to watch… and his poor, poor phone. I almost wanted to place him under Citizen’s Arrest for device abuse.

Anyway — this is only one of the many reasons I choose to be in Asia. Mobile habits and usage are similar to those of the US in 2007-08ish when consumer Internet just started getting disrupted.

Exciting times.

LINE 101

TC just reported that LINE’s revenues have doubled YoY to $192m USD in Q3 2014. And just like that, LINE is back in the news again.

Since I seem to repeat the same answers to the same questions about LINE over and over, here is what I wrote in 2013 for TNW. The piece is about messaging apps but I  go over all the basics of LINE. From history to adoption, features, business model, etc., this should cover any and all questions so it’s really, really, really long.

Enjoy — and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.


 

Line’s rise in Japan

Take the Line story, for example. Line, wasn’t an overnight success and there is good reason for that. Line’s biggest marketshare is in Japan. Japan’s smartphone market really began growing in 2011 — some four years after the US — and analysts have found a near-150 percent rise in smartphone adoption between 2011 and 2013.

Of the 127 million people in Japan, smartphone ownership finally passed 50 million users in August, but things are developing rapidly. Japan overtook the US as the biggest spenders on apps only this week, and the market is potentially hugely lucrative for makers of popular apps.

idc japan 520x279 Silicon Valley, you are tardy to the messaging app party

This market shift also affected Japan’s text-based communication.

Text-based communication in Japan is very different from the US and other parts of the world. Japanese telecoms have advanced emailing systems, where carrier-issued email addresses are attached to every mobile number. The email system functionally operates like SMS: simple, free and unlimited. SMS in Japan is charged per text, so before mass market smartphone adoption, text communication was done by keitai meru (cell phone mail).

With the rise of smartphones, apps quickly became popular. As users got used to beautiful, gesture-based UIs, text-based cell phone email no longer fulfilled their needs. That’s when Line started gaining serious traction. People go where their friends are and Line happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Line changed Japanese mobile communication.

And it’s easy to see why people quickly adopted Line. An Internet connection gives users free unlimited voice calls, unlimited free messaging, unlimited instant photo sharing, group chats and video communication. The interface is cute and Line is very easy to use, but, most importantly, it offered a solution to the ‘pay for all and everything’ Japanese telecom model — and Line disrupted the Japanese mobile industry.

line 300m 730x588 Silicon Valley, you are tardy to the messaging app party

Continue reading

Internet Power Balance Shift to Asia

P1-BR340_AINTER_G_20140916174816

The WSJ had a nice piece breaking down the mega internet companies of the world — of course US leads the pack but Asian companies aren’t doing so shabby either. China is of course leading the ‘Asia’ pack due to sheer population volume. Seriously, file that under no shit Sherlock.

But there were some fun factoids:

  • 45% of the world’s nearly 3 billion internet users are in Asia
  • WeChat (owned by Tencent) has about 440m users
  • Tencent’s profit margin in the second quarter was 32%, compared with 27% at Facebook and 21% at Google.
  • Tencent’s stock-market value is $148 billion, compared with Facebook’s $194 billion.
  • LINE (Japanese messaging app) had revenue of $323 million, 16 times the estimated revenue of WhatsApp.

…separately, it’s really funny how ‘tech journalists’ don’t seem to understand the products they are writing about. This particular author, said WeChat is WhatsApp’s rival. No. No. No. I can not say this enough times: they are two very different products. WhatsApp is a communication utility – a tool. WeChat is a full fledged platform, an ecosystem.

The author also calls LINE stickers ‘cutesy emoticons’ — which further highlights the lack of understanding of mobile behavior in Asia even after NYT wrote about it!! (Pretty embarrassing).

Oh well. I guess that’s why there is a need for someone like me or Jon Russell of TNW and a dedicated publication like TIA to pipe on about this region.

Only a few reasons I love emerging markets

During conversations with one of my favorite VCs and separately, with one of my favorite tech bloggers, services I never heard of were brought up. I also learned a few things I’m just going to leave here — more like a note to self — before I forget.

Old age, the struggle is real.


 

Opera still has 300M MUAs.
Opera Mini (the mobile browser
– Indian users of the Opera Mini mobile browsers used 75% less mobile data in the first half of the year
– is compatible with over 3,000 mobile devices, dumb phones and smartphones
-works on basic Java to the latest Android and iOS platforms

Wow – who knew. It’s such a perfect browser for emerging nations where cost and access are barriers source


 

Random thought: I wish I was passionate about logistics. So much money and room for disruption there. Imagine “between x and y is z” (where x, y = time and z = service ex: delivery, internet, cable, food, etc) is non existent. Time is precise. Or in plain English, parcels will be dropped off and service rendered at exact times.

The solution would involve an algo that calculates most cost efficient delivery radius in a way that’s never been done before. Combine that with a notification app like Yo, that’s a billion dollar business right there. And I believe the solution will come out of Asia.


 

Binu Screenshot_9_15_14_9_26_PM

Which reminded me of Frontline SMS Screenshot_9_15_14_9_28_PM

 

Google APAC has WiFi enabled rickshaws to help people go online

*Pardon the lazy post

Someone Disrupt Japan Please

I randomly watch this Call Me Maybe Chatroulette video when I recall it, because it never fails to make me laugh.

Today I needed to escape from all the Apple news and was happily watching it, dancing away, and noticed on the recommendation side tab, another Call Me Maybe parody from a super popular Japanese pop idol, Rola.

baa50c8044a6ce46f03349e335749bd8

 

That’s Rola – she’s cute, pretty, and super funny. I’m a fan. So I clicked on the video of her lip synching to ‘Call Me Maybe’ and laughed out loud. Universal Music Japan (her label I guess), put the video up. I mean, it’s a lip synching video, what the hell, why couldn’t she put it up herself?

There are so many other ‘Call Me Maybe’ lip synching renditions by famous people like the Bieber+Selena Gomez+Ashley Tinsdale or the one by The Roots and Fallon — uploaded on YouTube not by their labels.

Japanese companies strong hold content so much, there are close to zero streaming services. Almost the entire population has no idea what Spotify, Netflix, or Hulu are. It’s really quite sad.

Looking forward to the day all this changes. Perhaps in another 10-15 years LOL
Oh, Japan.