Indonesia Observed: The Mobile Internet Phenomena

2 min read

Everytime I travel to Indonesia, I am delighted by the fervour of mobile browsing. So what makes Indonesians and Mobile browsing tick?

1. Mobile browsing is the perfect Substitution

As a native of Malaysia, Indonesia’s neighbouring country. I always wonder what is it that Indonesians have that we don’t, as a matter a fact. We have more than them. Malaysia has better fixed line infrastructre, which means that people are already hooked to the net. And our rollout of WiMax and 3G/HSDPA has been equally fast, if not faster.

Then I realized that perhaps, this is the the very reason why Indonesians are more receptive to mobile browsing: simply because they have a bad fixed line infrastructure that they readily hop to the next substitution.

2. Indonesia’s telco is a case of Perfectly Competitive Market

Secondly, open competition. Bigboy Indosat charges 1 rupiah per 1 kbps (about USD0.80 for 10 mbps)and some newboys like SMART and AXIS are trying to beat this pricing. Compared to Malaysia, we are charging a hefty 30 times more (read Maxis, DiGi or UMobile’s prepaid and postpaid rate are at RM0.0.1/1kbps). For an unlimited plan, it’s approximately USD8 per month in Indonesia.

3. The Berry Factor

Thirdly is the berry factor. Everyone is hooked on blackberry’s messaging program. Blackberry’s messaging program is the sticking point where it gets people to start using mobile browsing. iPhone might help push the buzz further as it launches this week in Indonesia(and Malaysia too). I have to speculate that iPhone is not gonna be as big. It might get some love, but in a country where SMS is huge, touch-based phone are counter-productive.

I have started using touch-based phone for seven months now(reveal: HTC Touch Diamond) and I still can never get comfortable with texting. I (so do all Indonesians and Malaysians) inherited the ability of texting with my phone in the pocket in my teenage years where I can write an sms just by pressing the keypad in the pocket. In any case, the blackberry fever is a helping hand in Mobile browsing.

4. A browser for all

Lastly, Opera Mini. Opera Mini is Opera’s mobile browser variant that compresses everything that you request to approximately 20% of the actual size. It’s hard to argue the cause and effect here, but with lesser bandwidth consumption, it means saving 80% of your data charges – a high value proposition in a prepaid mad country.(disclosure: I work for Opera)

As for the prospect of mobile Web2.0. Just imagine – 220 million people market, booming mobile browsing. Your guess.

Note: I was in Jakarta as a guest speaker in BINUS and also spoke in Jakarta’s MobileMonday event.