Myanmar people with internet access are able to sign up with a number of local companies that provide online trading platforms. Users can then make trades on futures markets in foreign countries, such as Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand. At their most basic, futures contracts are agreements to buy an item, such as a commodity, at an up-front price, with delivery at a later, specified date. The contracts are then often heavily traded on international markets, as the underlying item changes in value before the delivery date.
Competition has been increasing in the market since Telenor and Ooredoo entered the market last year, and MPT began a significant revamp with support from Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo. MPT has extended promotional prices for users of its Swe Thahar plan, offering half-priced internet beginning in March. It also allows MPT users to call three other MPT numbers at K25 a minute, a discount from its usually K35. Last year, MPT provided a 20 percent bonus from April 12 to 21, though it currently does not plan a similar bonus for its non-Swe Thahar users this year.
With a background in computer programming, he has become a leading advocate for free software, the concept that software should be open to use, modification and distribution by anyone. Mr Stallman visited Yangon last week, bringing his often controversial message to local audiences. Along with other wordplay, puns received particular preference in his talk on free software and much more at downtown Yangon innovation lab, Phandeeyar, and helped demonstrate his distaste for proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows. At the April 2 event, he called Apple’s app store the “Crap” store, and renamed Amazon’s Kindle reader the “Swindle”.
In Yangon, Myanmar, it’s been a few years since the military made the decision to let citizens govern themselves. The city’s infrastructure is still not well-developed, and the residents remain quite traditional. One thing that is noticeable, however, is that a lot of people use smartphones in Yangon. Opera, an active player in the global web browser business, came to Yangon last weekend to share an initiative with the emerging market.
This form of social media arrived in 2011 and took off in 2012. This year, you can find all the details you want to know about the names, locations and facilities of every pandal in town, as well as ticket prices. “I used to find out what I needed to know about Thingyan arrangements in pamphlets and advertising boards. Now I go to Facebook, thanks to our country’s developing communications,” said Ko Min Min Hein. Kaung Kaung, organiser of the Barrack pandal team, said the same phenomenon had pushed up his advertising rates.
The Qatari telco’s new “Red” promotion, which public and community relations senior manager Ma Thiri Kyar Nyo called a New Year’s present, rolled out yesterday. With the campaign, Ooredoo Myanmar is K5 below Telenor’s price and K15 below state–owned telco MPT’s Swe Thahar plan. Telenor charges K25 and Swe Thahar costs K35 per minute for making calls respectively.
While the local handset market has traditionally been dominated by a handful of brands, several new entrants are pushing their products in the hope of growing market sharing in a rapidly expanding business. A June 2014 survey by On Device Research placed Chinese manufacturer Huawei as the brand of choice for the country’s consumers, followed by international heavyweights Samsung and Apple. Yet other companies – often based in China – are also attempting to make their mark with consumers.
The Norwegian telco has inked an agreement to spruce up traffic huts in Yangon and Mandalay, outfitting the booths with a Telenor logo and an LED screen displaying a set of traffic rules in Myanmar language. Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg said it has not paid any money to the authorities. “The only cost Telenor has is painting and fixing the booths, as some were in a pretty bad state,” he told The Myanmar Times last month.
“We haven’t reached an agreement with Yangon University to provide the service, because the university hasn’t replied to us,” he said. “But if Yangon gives us an agreement, we will give free WiFi service inside the university.” Yangon University rector U Aung Thu said the university currently provides sufficient connectivity for students, though will take up Redlink’s offer it finds it needs help.
SIM cards on every corner – and at prices people can afford, instead of the thousands of dollars they once cost – have opened up mobile services to record percentages of the population. The country’s number of mobile users grew by millions since 2013, driven by the availability of SIM cards and affordability of service, said Ovum research analyst Vivek Roy in a press release. At the end of 2014, mobile subscribers had reached 14.8 million in Myanmar, the release said.
Ooredoo also said that eight out of every 10 of its Myanmar users currently access the network through smartphones – making for healthy returns from its average customer, according to the press release. The Qatar-based telco claimed 2.2 million users in Myanmar at the end of December 2014. Its rival Telenor claimed 3.4 million subscribers in Myanmar at the same date at the end of last year.
Companies are crowding in to online shopping in a bid to be Myanmar’s version of Amazon or Alibaba. With all the competition, though, it is increasingly difficult to stand out in an industry that is only now finding its feet. Zaw Gyi Mart has been around for two years, but counts only 10,000 total users since its inception, said U Zaw Min Aung, managing director of parent company Za Information Technology.
The company’s Net Monday events started last year before the Telenor network had even launched. Since then, the series has reached 10,000 students from five universities and travelled to four cities, according to Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg. Conditions have changed quite a bit for Telenor since it held its first Net Monday last year. Since its first event, the Norway-based telco has scaled up service sites to number 1622 in Myanmar – putting its network at just over 20pc complete, by its own metric.
The event, aimed at an industry audience, saw steady levels of attendees over last year, according to Yangon Heartz Media CEO U Zaw Zaw Myo Lwin. The expo puts a wide range of tech community members in one place, gathering the likes of software houses, developers, and software importers and connecting them with startup freelance developers and more, AppExpo’s website said. Exhibitors ranged from Samsung to local startup, Nex, according to its website.
Authorised resellers are required to receive extensive approval from the American tech firm in everything from store location and design to stock they carry before receiving approval. The high standards can push a shop to become better, but require significant investments of time and money. Apple has four authorised resellers in Myanmar: Futureworld, mDrive, The Analytics Company (TAC) and Wai Yan Electronics. All have the go-ahead to start selling iPhones, but their launches have so far been different.
K1500 SIM cards, quality phone connections and zippy internet are now close to the norm for urban dwellers. But while Yangonites, Mandalarians and residents of Nay Pyi Taw have had the choice of Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT for six months, that is far from the case elsewhere in the country. Myanmar’s telecoms race is in full swing. Tower companies are rapidly putting steel in the ground further and further from the largest cities, while fibre and microwave links are connected, generators fired up and equipment switched on.
The move to extend Myanmar language support to Gmail, Google’s email service, brings the firm closer to its goal of making language a non-issue on the internet, and is one of a number of company initiatives aimed at encouraging the exchange of information into and out of Myanmar. The American search titan will also put on a local translation marathon February 28 under a new project surrounding Google Translate: “Love your Language”.
Campana Group, based in Singapore with a Yangon subsidiary, will deliver international connectivity, a reliable submarine network and massive capacity at an economical price, U Myo Myint Ohn said. The firm’s MYTHIC cable project joins others currently in the works and aims to disrupt the effective monopoly state-owned incumbent Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) enjoys in doling out international capacity. The telco, as part of a consortium, currently runs the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable, which connects Myanmar to 33 other countries around the world. Soon, MPT will operate SEA-ME-WE 5, which will link up with 17 other countries.
Total Gameplay Studio’s Pawthoot Android app, named for lovable rascal and Myanmar cartoon cultural icon Thamain Pawthoot, has gained 40,000 users. An iOS version is in development. “We are expanding this game in the Myanmar market, and we will expand this game in the world,” said U Myint Kyaw Thu, Total Gameplay Studio chief technology officer.