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Emerging Markets

  • Asia still needs a decade before it leads the tech world: here’s why

    It is undeniable that Asia is one of the most important centers of technology growth for the next decade. It’s the key for Facebook’s continued growth. It’s where the majority of web data is being produced. And it’s home to China, where some of the biggest multi-billion dollar tech companies the world has ever seen reside. But Asia is not alone in watching Silicon Valley, the Mecca of the tech world. The Valley dominates and leads everyone forward into the next century of technological innovation. We all have Valley-envy. And despite the fact that Asia is coming into its own...

  • Baidu reports 270m active Android users in China

    If anyone is in the position to know what Chinese netizens get up to online, it’s Baidu, the nation’s top search engine. Baidu’s newest mobile trends reports reveals lots of details about what people in China are doing with their smartphones and feature phones – but let’s focus on the big picture. The report shows that China now has 270-million active Android users (in Q3 2013), up from about 130-million at the same period last year. Notice that the rate of growth of Android uptake is now slowing on average -- to about 10 to 13% per quarter -- but there’s...

  • 6 big numbers to come out of Naspers’ latest set of results

    Over the past decade or so, Naspers has gone from being a reasonably large media and publishing outfit to being an emerging markets internet colossus with major investments Brazil, Russia, China and India, among others. That move into the internet and technology sector, as well as its aggressive offshore expansion, has been massively important for the company. The changes, largely driven by CEO Koos Bekker, mean that Naspers has been able to ride positive market sentiment to a market cap of around R400-billion (US$39-billion) based on a share price that's hovered around the R1 000 mark in recent times....

  • Breaking down the barriers to the next billion [Wired 2013]

    Day two of the Wired Conference kicked off with the lofty task of "bringing the next billion online" and included missives from those who are breaking down barriers and making big changes easier. Up first was Eben Upton -- co-founder of Raspberry Pi -- the small computer that looks like a small credit card with lights on it. Doesn't sound that thrilling until you realise it is fast changing the world. Why? A few reasons; it's US$25, freely available, customisable, incredibly easy to use... oh and it's already sold one million units (and on track to sell two million...

  • Line users in Taiwan make mini soap opera masterpieces out of stickers

    Line, the popular mobile messaging app, has already permeated pop culture in its major markets. In Taiwan, images of Line’s signature characters appear on billboards, in subways, and in night markets. With the brand firmly planted in the cultural zeitgeist, it’s no surprise that a few of its character have found their way into memes that get spread around social media. Below are a few mini-soap operas that Line fans in Taiwan have created solely out of stickers. There are a few more floating out there, but in an effort to keep it all ages, we’ve only selected ones our...

  • Free internet can fix education issues in developing countries [T4A]

    There are many issues facing the emerging markets and most will argue that technology and access to the internet can help solve those problems. "There is an internet revolution underway in parts of the world and some can not see it," says Derek Kopke, the Executive Vice President, International Business Development for DataWind, at this year's Tech4Africa conference. If you haven't heard of DataWind, you need to get out from under your rock. The company is responsible for the hugely popular Aakash tablets in India. The way Kopke sees it, education is one of the biggest problems facing the developing...

  • Big tech companies, governments join alliance for cheaper internet

    A group of private sector players, including Google and the Omidyar Network have joined forces with governments around the world in a bid to provide cheaper internet. The grouping, which is called the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), claims to be a coalition to "lead policy and regulatory reform and spur action to drive down artificially high internet prices in developing countries". "By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets," the group says in a press release, "A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below five percent of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the...

  • 5 ways China’s government will try to control the internet in the near future

    China’s State Information Office director Lu Wei published a report yesterday on the importance of online public opinion work – what some might call propaganda and censorship. The report essentially outlined the short-term actions the party will take or continue to take in its effort to minimize “negative energy” online, otherwise known as any content that harms the Communist Party’s image. You can read the full translation on the China Copyright and Media blog, but I’ve summarized the major points below. 1. No one can be anonymous Expect more strict enforcement of real-name registration for individuals, which has already begun. We must strengthen...

  • China could seriously use Tesla’s electric cars: here’s why

    Electric car maker Tesla has started taking preorders in China and set up a Weibo page. It seems clear that someday soon, Tesla’s electric car will be navigating China’s hazardous traffic patterns -- and I could not be happier about that fact. To be clear, I have no real personal stake here. I don’t live in Beijing anymore, and I certainly can’t afford one of Tesla’s expensive roadsters, especially at the inflated prices at which they’ll be offered. I just think the cars could fit a niche and actually complement China’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that could work...

  • 9 huge investments Koos Bekker could make if he cashed in his Naspers shares

    Here at Memeburn we have massive respect for Naspers CEO Koos Bekker. Aside from the fact that he heads up a multi-billion dollar media company with investments around the globe, he clearly understands the value of tech. Under Bekker, Naspers has made seriously clever investments in the likes of Russia's Mail.ru, China's Tencent and Argentinian online classifieds platform OLX. While other companies would've stuck with what they know -- in Naspers' case publishing and television -- Bekker's made sure his company is always looking toward the next big thing. It's paid off too. The company's combined internet properties made...

  • Facebook, Tencent and why Naspers’ Koos Bekker doesn’t need a salary

    I was recently asked why it was that emerging markets media giant Naspers has had such a run, why the stock price was up so much. I thought for a while and then applied myself and came up with a couple of suggestions. A Facebook re-rating over the last eight trading sessions must have a lot to do with it. Plus LinkedIn. The "quality" internet assets have been rerated. Then there's the fact that Chinese internet giant Tencent, in which Naspers has a large stake, is up a whopping 33.3%. Over the last month alone its stock has risen 20.23%...

  • China’s internet wars: who’s sided with who?

    The battle between China’s internet giants is only becoming more contentious, and the nation’s major companies seem to be making acquisitions and partnerships at a breakneck pace this year (not to mention rolling out products designed to invade rivals’ markets). In the interest of clarity, I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of who’s on whose team so far, based on China’s three most internet profitable companies. Obviously none of this is cast in stone, but it’s still quite an interesting way to understand the internet sector. (Note: these lists only include acquisitions and partnerships from 2013). Team...

  • Could MOOCs help democratise education in emerging markets?

    There is no doubt that information is the power of a progressive society. Access to knowledge is the first step in a society’s journey towards becoming empowered. The status quo According to the 2013 INSEAD Global Innovation Index, approximately 14 million people in emerging market country like South Africa have access to the internet. That's still a relatively small portion of the population, although it's a much bigger proportion than the 100 or so million internet users India currently has. But while numbers may fluctuate from country to country, there can be no doubting that the internet presents the greatest opportunity...

  • Why digital natives need to leave their ivory towers: the DStv example

    I recently had an interesting discussion on an email group I’m part of discussing the merits of Netflix over pay TV and Naspers' Africa-wide satellite offering DStv. The discussion then devolved into a “DStv better bring out a streaming solution or they will end up failing as a business”. Suuuuuuuuuuuure, one of the world's largest media companies is going to let its pay TV cash cow just disappear thanks to some American upstart? Let’s crunch some numbers here: Multichoice, the Naspers subsidiary that controls DStv, has over six and a half million subscribers and recently reported a fairly impressive R7.6-billion...

  • Smartphones on the cusp of overtaking feature phones in Thailand

    Thailand has been known to be a huge feature phone market, just like Indonesia. However, a release published by GfK Retail and Technology Asia proved that the Southeast Asian country with some 69 million people is getting increasingly tech-savvy. The report reveals that in the first quarter of 2013, a total of 2.87 million smartphones were sold in Thailand. According to the survey results, “two in every five mobile handsets sold was a smartphone.” Not only has sales doubled from one in every five handsets two years back, findings also stated that it all started in early-2012. Apparently, consumers in...