Usually, reviews of the state of Asian mobile markets talks about China and India and then there’s little room or space to discuss the other large and rapidly changing markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia. That’s why I thought there were several interesting perspectives discussed in the Economist article, Talk is cheap, that can provide a useful frame of reference when discussing or thinking about the other important part of Asia not India and not China.

Indonesian mobile subscribers spend $5 per month.

And in the Philippines subscribers routinely carry multiple SIMs so they can take advantage of in-network calling restrictions or time of day promotions. Most mobile users are prepaid users who shop around for the best promotions and deals.

The WSJ reported that China is trying to push towards the postpaid option and is now requiring mobile users to identify themselves at the time of phone purchase and service activation.

The Chinese government says this is to cut down on the mobile spam and mobile fraud. Privacy advocates say this makes it really easy to attach a persons name to the seditious conversation they just recorded but couldn’t identify the parties before.

Carrier competition and decoupled devices makes it hard for the operator to earn the kind of margins that US carriers experience, but pundits are predicting this will change as users get more data service savvy. They argue that the continued innovation in smartphones will reduce the price and cost of these devices making them suitable as a premium device in these price conscious markets. They argue that mobilizing services like FaceBook will make the use of mobile data networks more attractive than landline Internet services ever could.

No doubt, for billions of people, the mobile Internet will be their first and likely only Internet experience. This will also pressure network operators to build out 3G and 4G or LTE networks to address this expected demand.


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