Philippines leading on social media

Philippines leading on social media

The Philippines ranked as “the most social nation” or the country with the most active population on social media, according to the latest State of the Mobile Web report released by Opera Software. Mobile Internet users in the Philippines have a tendency to visit social-networking sites more than any other. In fact, 86 percent of the page views from Opera Mini mobile browser users in the Philippines are to social-networking sites, which represents the highest percentage among Opera Mini's top-50 user countries on a global scale.

Social networking is one of the country's most active web-based activities. Filipinos are the most active users on a number of web-based social network sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter on a global scale. Tagged as “The Social Networking Capital of the World,” the Philippines have adopted an extensive cyberculture. With over 7.9 million Filipinos using the Internet, 6.9 million of them visit a social networking site at least once a month. David Jones, vice president for global marketing of Friendster - one of the most visited websites in the Philippines - said that “the biggest percentage of (their site's) user is from the Philippines, clocking in with 39 percent of the site's traffic.”

A study released by Universal McCann entitled “Power to the People - Wave3” declared the Philippines as “the social networking capital of the world,” with 83 percent of Filipinos surveyed are members of social network. They are also represent the largest photo uploaders and web video viewers, ranking second in terms of the number of blog readers and video uploaders.

According to the closely followed internet trends report released by social media management platform Hootsuite and United Kingdom- based consultancy We Are Social Ltd. the Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes per day on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. The data is based on active monthly users data from social media companies.

The Philippines's social media usage, however, stands in stark contrast to its internet speed. The country's fixed broadband speed is among the slowest in Asia Pacific while mobile connections are among the fastest, which explains why smartphones‘ usage in the Philippines has increased exponentially.

Within a year, the Opera Mini user base in the Philippines increased by 41 percent, and is how the eight-largest in the world and second-largest in Southeast Asia. Its smartphone user base also increased by an unprecedented 90 percent.

The study shows the key trends revolutionizing the mobile web in the country:

It is undeniable that the mobile web usage is growing in the Philippines, with an increase of the number of page views to 62 percent. Browsing 638 webpages on average per month, the Opera Mini user in the Philippines browses more than the average, which is 615 pages.

With an 86 percent of page views by Opera Mini users in the Philippines, mobile internet users in the country have the highest social-media activity in the world. This also represents the highest percentage among the top-50 Opera Mini user countries. Which social network do they visit more? Facebook clearly dominates, while Twitter, Wordpress, tumblr, Pinterest, and Flirchi rank among the 20 most visited sites.

Most Filipinos have either a smartphone or a local phone brand. Indeed, more than half of Filipinos who browse with Opera Mini users do so on smartphones. The smartphone adoption rate has grown year on year in the Philippines. Meanwhile, local smartphone brands are increasing their market share. In fact, Cherry Mobile has overtaken Samsung, with a 27 percent market share, and another local brand, MyPhone, has 8 percent. These two local smartphone brands' total market share put together is 35 percent, higher than Nokia's 31 percent.

“The prevalence of the smartphone is driving internet usage in the Philippines,” said Eiko H. Raquel, Country Manager for the Philippines at Opera Software. “Filipinos love to share things with friends and families. This country used to be the text-messaging capital of the world. Now, with easier internet access and higher smartphone adoption, the Philippines has not only been crowned the ‘selfie capital of the world' by Time magazine, but also has now been ranked as the most social nation” by Opera."

Founded back in 1996 and with over 350 million customers, Opera provides faster and more innovative web browsers. Originally from Norway, Opera Software AS is a privately held company.

Best Apps to explore Asia

Best Apps to explore Asia

Why get a travel guide when you can get an app that does everything for you? Some apps give you the information right away, they help you book a room, a tour or a trip with a few taps on your phone and they have up-to-date information. Mobile apps are revolutionizing the world of travel today: they are handy, easily accessible and provide every kind of information you need while you travel. Here are some mobile apps to travel around Asia:

Findery is a mobile app that allows you to share your experiences while exploring the world. A cross between geocaching and social networks, you can leave “digital notes” about a place and explore other travelers' memories as well. Findery is an interactive travel journal that allows you to add your videos, photos and music clips when you share a “digital note” or memory.

Combine this app with eOasia tours to access memos of all the places your guide takes you to and other travelers can read your suggestions. Open the in-built map to check out notes of nearby areas that travelers have left behind. This app is not only available in English, but also in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Use Hopper app to get the best fares on air tickets. Designed mainly for iPhones, Hopper advises you when the best time to book air tickets. Unfortunately, the app only shows you when you should buy the ticket but you can't purchase it straight from the app.

Having Triplt mobile app is like having a personal assistant while you travel. From your travel confirmations, itineraries, tickets, car rental and hotel bookings, this app stores and manages all of your bookings. This saves you the trouble of going through your emails to check your bookings and what's more, you can even access them online, which can be incredibly useful when you are traveling and Internet access is limited.

You can even sync this app to your Google calendar, and allow it to send travel confirmations to Triplt for alerts. That will allow you to check flight number, hotel address, or confirmation number on the go. This is perfect for when you are backpacking around Asia as it allows you to find all your bookings in one place and keep track of your tours.

Travel Pocket is like having a personal accountant when you travel. This is a great expense tracker when you are traveling and it even has a currency converter. This gives you control over what you are spending and what you are spending your money on while you travel. It also gives you a summary at the end of your trip so you can see how much money you spent and what was most expensive during your trip. You can even export this into a spreadsheet.

The Converted is an app used for conversion of measurement and is useful for Asian travelers as various countries use different units. With over 200 units, 165 currencies and 52 other units including weight, temperature and speed, this app makes traveling in Asia that much more convenient.

Rome2Rio helps you plan your route by showing you different ways to get to your destination. This app is particularly helpful when you travel in Asia to save you from getting scammed. The app will help you take the local transportation, including buses, ferry and trains, and it also allows you to book a flight.

Open Signal is the network solution when you travel. It shows you Wi-Fi networks, measures signal strength and phone signals. It even shows you the area coverage and speed of local cellular carriers on a map. The app also helps you choose a local SIM card and allows you to keep track of your monthly data usage.

It's not that easy to get your bearings when you land in a new country, particularly if it's a big city. City Maps 2 Go is the ultimate travel guide and map as you can access it offline. Beforehand, you have to save places you want to visit, pin places such as your hotel, and you can access it offline. It saves you data usage or it is particularly convenient when you have no Internet at all.

Philippines: next tech tiger

Philippines: next tech tiger

Although the Philippines has one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, it is not clear it will become the next tech tiger since it also has the slowest internet in the region. Whether it is slow internet connection can hinder its tech revolution or not, some people are certain that the country posses an opportunity to turn it into Asia's next tech tiger.

With a fast-growing middle class who can afford technology, a large English-speaking population, a society that is addicted to social media, and low labor and operating costs, the Philippines apparently has all the ingredients of an emerging tech tiger.

There's an opportunity for growth as the population is ready for a tech revolution: they have money to spend and they love being online but the slow internet connection frustrates them. If internet speed is already atrocious, coverage is no consolation: stepping out of the city means traveling decades back in time.

A recently arrived tech entrepreneur Peter Fabian said to the BBC that the Philippines looks like “the end of the world” to any seasoned Silicon Valley investor. The reason why Philippines has been left behind in the region is because entrepreneurs looking for the next tech hub overlooked the country and invested in other Asian tigers, such as Singapore and Thailand.

Despite being late in the Southeast Asian boom, there's still hope for the country. Mr Fabian, for instance, said: "We see the Philippines as a good testing market." That is why he chose Philippines for his start-up after researching emerging markets across the globe. He did this in spite of his business being dependent on technology, as it aims to use big data to build a credit card company aimed at the middle class who are not customers of traditional banks.

The reason behind this bold move is that Mr Fabian saw the country as a land of opportunities since there is not much competition with only a few experienced tech entrepreneurs around. Mr Fabian also saw the opportunities the Philippines has being a former US colony. The country already has a large English-speaking population which echoes some similar cultural values and the country shares many US institutions, making it more familiar and easy to navigate.

"The attitude towards foreigners is very welcoming, which cannot be said of a lot of people in Asia," said Mr Fabian. Although the Philippine start-up scene is limited, there are some initiatives in this direction. For instance, some businesses adapting Western products to the local market, including fast fashion ecommerce, daily deals sites or taxi service apps.

Meanwhile, others, like Ron Hose who is a Silicon Valley-bred entrepreneur and investor based in Manila are investing instead in looking for solutions to local issues. Therefore, they are coming up with new products that are particularly designed and built for the local market.

"There are a second set of problems that are unique to emerging markets that companies and entrepreneurs in developing countries are not really building products for," he said.

"An entrepreneur sitting in an office in Silicon Valley," Mr Hose said, "is not thinking about the problems of a Filipino who is sitting in a Jeepney (local taxi) for an hour and a half a day to go to work, or whose home gets flooded 10 times a year during typhoons."

His company,, offers financial services to people who have no bank account. According to Mr Hose, it may be true that each country is unique, but there are vital common problems that are similar across emerging markets, like being unbanked - which he already addressed - or having no access to education.

"If you solve one of these needs, then the market is larger than any one of these countries. If you can solve banking for people in the Philippines, you can solve it for 500 million people in South East Asia," he said.

Richard Eldridge is another Manila-based tech entrepreneur who co-founded Lenddo, an online loan company that provides consumers access to financial services and helps them use their social media activity to develop creditworthiness. Based in The Philippines since 2001, MR Edridge has seen the impact of the economic boom on the Philippines.

While running an outsourcing company, he noticed that many of his employees - who are part of the middle class he is targeting - kept soliciting loans from him. "It fascinated me that they were coming to me and not going to a bank and getting loans," said Mr Eldridge. That's the story of why he left the multinational in 2011 to start his own company Lenddo with New York-based chief executive Jeff Stewart. Although the Philippines remains Lenddo's home base and largest market, the company has expanded to other countries such as Mexico and Colombia. Given the success and growth of the company, it is now looking at 30 other emerging countries for expansion.

China Tech Domination in SE Asia

China Tech Domination in SE Asia

A Chinese billionaire surprised the audience of a pitch from a startup in Singapore when he wrote “Speed x Market Share” on a white board. This formula means that to succeed to you in a market, you need to be the first and the largest, no matter what the cost. This simple formula is now revolutionizing the Southeast Asian tech scene as China takes it over.

“It was the moment that I understood the Chinese strategy,” said Isaac Ho, the founder of Venturecraft Group, who's known in local medtech circles for whiskey-fueled networking parties. “If you are not the number one, you will become obsolete; if you are the number one, you can buy the newer technology. It's a winner-takes-it-all game.''

This is the story of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Didi Chuxing. The three corporations expanded to new territories at an unprecedented speed on an immense scale. They did this by following that simple formula laid out by the Chinese billionaire. After such expansion and investment, the first two are now listed amongst the 10 largest corporations in the world.

After those companies have conquered their home markets, which are now saturated, the country's tech overlords are looking to expand to the rest of the planet. The first obvious choice is Southeast Asia, which is a market where they can export that technology and grow quickly as the population in the region is twice the population of the U.S. and is home to the largest Chinese expats in the world; therefore, language and tradition will facilitate this expansion.

Over the course of 2016, Chinese investment in technology off shore more than doubled to $37.8 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Out of those, giant Alibaba paid $1 billion in 2016 for control of Singapore-based e-commerce player Lazada Group SA. Meanwhile, WeChat-operator Tencent - a backer of Sea Ltd., Southeast Asia's most valuable startup - invested around $100 million to $150 million in Indonesian ride-sharing giant Go-Jek. Even Asia's most valuable startup Didi has declared it intends to go global.

“What you are seeing is a change in mindset,” said Thomas Tsao, founding partner of early stage investor Gobi Partners. “They're starting to aspire, not just to be the biggest Chinese company, but they are thinking globally.”

China has paved the way to take over the regional economy for decades. Chinese investors have are transforming the region by pouring billions into everything from transport to real estate. According to an estimate by Credit Suisse Group AG, China nearly doubled foreign direct investment into the six biggest Southeast Asian nations in 2016.

Although little of that investment went to the tech sector, which is in its infancy compared to the Chinese tech sector, the country's tech giants are shifting their gaze to the region. China's tech domination of the region will be facilitated by Southeast Asia's deepening mobile penetration and an emergent middle class. The region is an asset for these tech investors as the tech sector is in its infancy, it's home to a large market and also hosts the largest ethnic Chinese population on the planet.

According to the International Monetary Fund, growth in the Asean-5 of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam is projected to exceed annually through 2022, outstripping North Asia's 3 percent on average.

No single player is dominant in the Southeast Asia's tech sector, which means the territory is still up for grabs, unlike China where just a few control the major spheres of search (Baidu Inc.), e-commerce (Alibaba), social media (Tencent) and ride-sharing (Didi). This means that Southeast Asia is an opportunity for new companies that can't compete in the saturated market of China or for the key players which can't expand any longer in the Chinese market. As China starts its way to dominate the tech sector of Southeast Asia, we are yet to see how it will all play out and which are the key players that will dominate the region.

Israeli tech pioneer Yossi Vardi says Alibaba's eagerness to expand quickly outside China reminds him of the U.S. in the 60s and 70s when American companies shifted their gaze outside of the American territory, looked outward for growth and that's the story of how they became multinationals. “This is very, very substantial and it's just a beginning,” he said.

“The opportunity in Asia is just unparalleled,” said Grace Xia, Tencent's senior director of corporate strategy and investment. “Southeast Asia is emerging at an accelerated pace, with a lot of similarities with China in terms of user behavior.''