High-powered infrastructures, coupled with Asia’s culture of sharing, are driving significant growth in mobile and digital markets in the region. But it’s not stopping just there.
Despite being a very fragmented market, many Asian companies have gotten excellent traction in their local markets, enough to have the horsepower to get them to leap beyond their borders and become influential global players.
One of these is Indonesian-built MindTalk, which is a social platform that allows users to share interests. MindTalk Founder and CEO Danny Wirianto says, “We have plans to localize Mindtalk in other countries. Our strategy lies in creating shared partnerships with established players in other parts of the world.”
Danny stresses the importance of understanding markets, “Different countries have different behaviors. In Singapore, people are crazy about food. In Malaysia, it’s technology.”
In addition, according to Danny, products must be designed and continuously enhanced, to ensure adaptability and adoption in specific markets.
Another incumbent player is Japan’s Line, a cross-platform communication service and application, offered for free by Naver of NHN Japan. Line, which has received a healthy dose of media attention lately, has “20 million registered Japanese users already, making it a real challenger to domestic social-network giants Mixi, Gree and Mobage, which each have around 25-30 million users.” [ref: Japan Times]
“It’s tremendously critical, yet difficult for many Asian companies, to build things that are really simple,” says Brandon Katayama Hill, CEO of Btrax, a boutique cross-cultural creative agency. “And that’s essentially what we do at Btrax — which is help innovative Asian and US businesses localize successfully. If we can build high-impact yet simple solutions, then there’s a huge potential to take that solution to the next level and to a different market.”
“A number of US-based companies are doing well in Japan because they understand the market dynamics really well,” added Brandon. “Evernote, for example, gets half of its revenue from Japan.”
Sean Han, Head of International Business at UCWeb, a free mobile browser relates: “In Asia, people spend about one to two hours in public transportation. Further, in China, the mobile network is wider, connectivity speed is faster versus the US and as a result, mobile usage intensified.”
“At UCWeb, our philosophy built on creating value and building an ecosystem with our partners has enabled us to grow global,” added Sean.
“To succeed globally, Asian companies need to understand customer feedback and put that back into the product development,” saidPatrick Chung, Co-Founding Managing Director at SK Telecom Ventures. SK Telecom is a venture capital fund focused on the Internet, mobile, and digital media markets.
The mobile and digital startup ecosystem in other parts of Asia such as in the Philippines and Thailand is gradually emerging. IdeaSpace, launched last August, runs an incubator and accelerator program to support Pinoy tech innovations. Another similar program is Hack2Hatch, a startup mentoring camp brought by some of the best Filipino entrepreneurs, like Dado Banatao, a Silicon Valley Visionary, and Winston Damarillo, Chairman and CEO of Exist Global, a software powerhouse with more than 150 Java, Ruby on Rails and mobile innovators.