Mostly Everything

4 areas that will determine Netphone’s success in the Philippines

After drinking the Kool Aid and taking a step back to absorb my Barcelona trip (I’m at the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge!), here are some things that SMART should consider to make the Netphone a success in the Philippines:

Affordability to Mass Market. We’ve seen the first Netphone — a touch screen Android 2.2 device. How much do you think this costs? Affordable for everyone reading this blog, but to the mass market who earns an equivalent of one Wendy’s Baconator a day, would they even consider using this device? Before we even talk about features, can the masses even afford it? How much should the entry level 3G-enabled phones cost? PHP 3k? PHP 2k? PHP 1k? Remember, the Netphone is SMART’s solution to the adoption of 3G for the mass market so before we start looking at our BlackBerries and HTC’s being Netphone enabled, let’s take a step back and see how SMART will push these to the tingi market.

Utility. I was having lunch with Mantosh Malhotra of Qualcomm a week before MWC and he told me that the adoption of 3G for the mass market will only succeed if they can find a real benefit for it. This isn’t about Facebook or Foursquare or Twitter “conversations”, but having applications that give the daily market price of fish to fishermen so they don’t need to go through a middle man. It’s apps that have a direct impact to their livelihood. 3G isn’t an end in itself. 3G is a mere headfake when you bring real benefits to people who don’t see the value of using Facebook.

Strong Developer Relationships At the end of the day, a platform is only as good as the apps made available in the ecosystem. During the MWC panel on the growth of Apps, Bong Mojica of SMART mentioned that telcos in general have been very unfriendly with developers in the past and in the new web, this has to change. The “telco 2.0” is a web company, focusing on developing relevant applications using its handsets (not individual operating systems) as a unifying platform. It’s about having independent developers see the telco ecosystem as a viable source of income (so they can quit their day jobs and focus on being creative), rolling out apps for entry level, mid-range and high end phones within the telco’s stable of devices.

Strong Community Relationships If you read through the Netphone’s features you will be blown away with opportunities for community building. The Global Address Book, Chat and eCommerce facilities have huge potential. But beyond all these services are the people, divided into the many organizations and clubs they are a part of. If SMART will be investing a lot of money into the marketing, it should target communities that are able to adopt the Netphone as a platform in the same way most communities and businesses make use of Twitter and Facebook as their home on the Internet.