Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Reports – My Take on Asia

D11 just finished and I’ve been reading some reports, but as always, I’m more interested in Asia rather the common markets that we always hear from.

Saw Rick Martin’s post on his analysis of the Internet Trends Reports here and he focused on the job market and how countries should react to this shift. Seeing the trends in labor forces declining is very interesting especially with larger markets. Now that the whole global industry has changed, we are seeing how markets respond and how companies are addressing the challenges of the new world. It’s also defining how companies are formed all the way to employment.

I’ll be referencing this slide as I make my own opinions and analysis based on my knowledge and some data to back it up.

Slide 4

I love seeing how internet growth is happening all over the world especially in developing nations. Coming from the Philippines, and knowing the effects of easier access to information, I’m pleased to see how well the internet is growing. Countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are growing rapidly as well. The past two years has been good for Indonesia with various internet companies setting up shop and investors seeing potential with the growth of the market.

That’s just the major coverages aside from the more local ones like Techinasia and e27.

The Philippines has been growing for the past year and it has been surprising markets all over the world. The Philippines still has a lot of challenges to overcome but seeing growth is always good. The infrastructure is still lacking compared to other countries in South East Asia, and with a monopoly between two major teleco companies is not helping at all. A huge intervention is needed to be able to solve this problem and I hope they realize this sooner than later.

Also, the establishment of two major incubators (backed up by the same telco) is helping tremendously with the growth of the technology scene and I’m really grateful to have met the people behind it. has a good summary of this

Vietnam is also on the rise for the past few years. Although internet censorship still exists I’ve been hearing great news about the infrastructure in Vietnam. If you are having a hard time researching about Vietnam and what’s going on there, TechinAsia has a good summary of news sources here

Slide 6

Not surprising considering the growth of these markets. Even Socialbakers analysis got it spot on with 4 out of the 15 top countries in facebook usage growth during 2012.

Slide 7

I’m still torn on this as I haven’t seen enough data on the mobile phone OS usage in South East Asia. I know modern smartphones are big in Singapore, Blackberrys are popular in Indonesia, but there’s not enough movement on this front for the usage to be similar to more developed nations. Everybody has two phones in the Philippines, but it doesn’t mean that majority has smart phones. I know that this will change as cheaper smartphones flood the market and we can easily see this happening now as more and more. Mobile development is happening around the region, but until we get more utility based apps that solve local problems we’ll have to be followers more than anything. Facebook and Google has been exploring this market such as Google Free where you can connect to the net for free if you want to search for something and Facebook launched zero as a light weight method to connect to Facebook on feature phones. I’m not really sure of the success of these programs, as they are merely bridges for a more full fledged smart phone experience.

Slide 40

The growth and potential is there but again, the penetration is not enough for smartphones to be ubiquitous. It’ll only take time. There’s a bunch of mobile companies now and if you are entering the world of software development, being a mobile developer now in Asia (well a developer anywhere) will be a good career move.

Slide 45,46,47

Netbooks had a good thing coming during the day, with it’s cheap price point and basic enough features, killed by the tablet, and smartphones, this will be the entry point of developing markets to the internet. Being cheap and having enough capabilities we can easily see the demand for these devices surging on. Considering that even a cat can use the iPad, cheaper iOS devices will be welcomed by developing nations with arms wide open.

Newer technologies are introduced in the following slides such as wearable devices and drivables but I don’t see these devices arriving anytime soon in SEA. Still a lot of challenges with infrastructure being the base of everything. I can’t wait to see more from these countries as more and more grassroots movements happen. If you are thinking of exploring new markets (well, relatively new) South East Asia is brimming with money, growth, and potential.

As always, I would love to hear from you, let’s have a discussion. 🙂


Lean Startup Machine Tokyo Edition

My first Lean Startup Machine experience was in Singapore where Microsoft was a sponsor of the event. It was the first time being held in Singapore so there was a lot of buzz especially on the process. This was the time that the Lean Startup book was gaining followers so it’s timely to be held in Singapore.

Moving to Tokyo, I was lucky to be contacted by the organisers to be a mentor on it’s Tokyo leg. It’ll be a good opportunity to meet and connect with the local community and, more importantly, fuel my curiousity on the problems that people are trying to solve in Tokyo. No matter where I go, it’s always the problems that interest me more than anything else.

There was an interesting diversity of the attendees, around half of which are foreigners. I’m fascinated with this diversity as it’s the same in Singapore and even in Cebu. I know this has some meaning behind it as the entrepreneurship culture is different everywhere in the world. Enterprising individuals, no matter where they are, will always show up in events like this to fulfil their need to solve a problem.

As always, the pitches are the most interesting part, having seen many startup events with pitching opportunities, I wanted to know what type of problems people are concerned about in Japan and how they propose to tackle them. I always thought that Japan is this hi-tech heaven, but after spending a few months here, it’s not the case. With that in mind, I was opening myself up to more on the ground type of solution rather than the magical hi-tech miracles.

Striking, and yet not surprising, that everyone in the world has the same problems. Keeping in touch with love ones, achieving your goals, keeping healthy and the like. If you are looking for some world chaging solution in these type of events, then you’re at the wrong place. The great thing with these type of events, is nobody aims to solve the largest problem in the world and yet from these solutions, larger problems are solved. I won’t say how many things came out of small beginnings and the lean methodology is a great way to get started and see if you are going into the right direction. I gave my review of Lean Startup here and if you follow it while keeping the learnings intact, then your relatively small solution, will start getting bigger as you continue your learning and discovery.

Here are some of the teams that presented at LSM Tokyo in my raw notes form.


1. Yaoya-IT – shop management/ loyalty app.

2. Kizuna connect – connecting with grandparents via physical printed pictures.

Hypothesis – If people would actually subscribe to a service that will send physical photos to parents

Reached the pitch stage but now will come to execution. Something similar exists? not sure. All I can think of is touch note.

3. Happy Family Lunch – tool to be able to each with your family together while knowing if the restaurant has the correct facilities.

Eating out with kids – diapers, type of food.

Hypothesis – Family who wanted to enjoy good food experience. The issue is not serious enough so they pivoted. They went out to understand the customer base and who they are actually targeting and ended up targeting moms WHO wants to eat out.

4. Wishmall – is this a wish, service request app? List of peoples need and match with who can provide it. (craigslist)

Illusionary feedback which is good – invalidated.

People like advice on expensive stuff rather than cheap stuff. shoes for special use that then jumped to baby sitting. The whole service became a babysitting service with other features.

Interesting how they transitioned from shoes and being things, which the process lead to something that people actually trust and there’s no more thing that you will trust other than your kids which then transformed to a baby sitting service.

They went out to ask how baby sitting is and the most important thing is the trust rather than money. It will be a babysitting review site more than anything else.

5. Bilinguals – accumulating medical information for kids and recommend hospitals.

First assumption were new movers and taking over the counter medicine. Focused on who. Seriously ill and who are not satisfied with their treatment, moved to healthy people who are concerned with kids health. went out again, people who have cards and who are not happy with keeping their hospital cards.

Keeping one card and information in the web.

6. Achievement – achievement tool. Focused on getting your goal achieved. Pivoted 3 times based on feedback.

Turned into a business matching for wannabe entrepreneurs or people who wants to explore entrepreneurship. from starting a business into an app for people who are doing weekend business. A motivational tool for people creating business. Turned into a team management but more of people who share the same vision.

7. Super Wifi – They have a nano material called Graphene and is looking for a problem to solve. Didn’t get a solution and is still looking for the problem that they want to solve. Needs more time to simmer as they don’t have the solution that they are looking for.

8. GoIssho – starting with suica expansion/loyalty card. Starting with a long story rather than learnings good points on how they should not hold onto the idea. Created Goissho, mentor and entrepreneur connection tool. Not sure if they did the correct thing but after going through the Suica process and chaining their minds, they focused on their cookie monster effect. I’m not sure if they maximised the learning that they could haver learned today none the less they pivoted and moved on from their initial idea which is good.

People are hesitant to pay more than 1000yen with their suica. They want a detailed breakdown of their suica spending.

9. I love kosadate – providing busy moms with health information for their kids. Followed the energy of the audience instead of going with their first instinct. the pivot was good and I think this team will win as they did all things write.

Youtube’s Decemeber 2012 Redesign

I’m not a UX guy, so hopefully somebody can shed light into this.

youtube new design


Added plug. Check out Up Dharma Down

Use Zune Pass on Windows 8 Release Preview

Windows 8 is the next iteration of Windows. For those not as familiar, Windows 8 is a radical change as Microsoft is introducing the Metro design for Windows. You can find out more about Metro at

With Windows 8, Microsoft is integrating a lot of its services to take advantage of its several platforms. Windows Phone, Xbox, Hotmail, Skydrive and other consumer services already uses one authentication via Live ID and it makes sense that the new OS will take advantage of this. If you’ve tried the pre-release versions of Windows 8, you can easily see the influence of this even from the login screen.

With this integration, news of rebranding of some services like the Zune are abound and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.

Anyways, if you’re using a Zune Pass, don’t fret as you can still access music just like before using the built in music app in Windows 8.

As I wanted to maximize the integration of the services with my new Windows 8. I loggedin using my hotmail account synced with Zune and lo and behold it actually works.

The music app works just like the Zune app but some features are missing like the mixed view. Some of the navigation features are still missing and adding songs to the current playlist doesn’t exist.

not really sure how to add songs to “now playing” and don’t tell me i haven’t tried “add to my music”

I know this is still an app preview so no surprises that these features are missing and I’m guessing that they are focusing on the main features so far.

There’s a bit of getting used to in the Music App. For one, there’s a lot of scrolling and clicking going on. Just to know the individual songs in the album, I have to do twice the clicks compared to the Zune app. Because of the design of Metro apps that has to cater for different form factors like tablets, this limits power users like me to navigate the app like everybody else. Whenever I use an app extensively, I learn as much shortcuts as I can as I want to get to the action as fast as I can. Browsers, email clients, OSes and such allow you to do this, but once an app is designed for multiple purposes it loses this advantage. I know Windows 8 has several shortcuts for you to get to the settings, the app bar, etc, but if you are navigating on the content of the application yourself, the developer has to create shortcuts of their own.

Overall, I’m very happy that the Zune will be continued (either as the Music app or something else) but I hope they empower the Music app just like the Zune. A nicely designed app that shows me what I want to see when searching and exploring new music. Come to think of it, the Zune app was one of the first applications to use the Metro language way back. A nice, cleanly made application that made great use of white space all through out.

If you are using Windows 8 Release Preview and notice any gems like these, please comment on. Would love to know what you think of the apps and how you’ll be using it.

PS. Super happy that Skitch is on Windows 8. Skitch is a photo annotating app on the Mac OS.

Startup Weekend Cebu 2012

I was lucky to have been part of Startup Weekend Cebu that happened over the weekend. Held last May 11, 2012 at University of the Philippines Cebu, me and a few of my team mates came down to explore the startup scene in Cebu. I also helped out the organizers to get some some mentors and a judge for the event.

I’m no stranger to Startup Weekends and I’ve been part of a couple here in Singapore. One thing that I always look forward to is the pitches during the first night. Pitches give me a quick idea of what are the problems that people care about and think of and it’s something worth solving or spending time on.

During SW:Cebu over 40 pitches were given which lasted for over an hour. I love the diversity of crowd pitching. From professionals to students, people from different industries and nationalities. The mixture felt great and more experiences will be shared all throughout the event.

Over 40 participants lined up to pitch

I find that the pitch reflects the problems that the participants face. One thing that I observed was how the expats were trying to solve “first world problems” while most of the locals were pitching solutions for entertainment, solving simple problems, staying in touch with their families and such. Coming from the Philippines, I felt a big difference between the pitches. A couple of pitches that really stood out was one about how he can get the best deals for importing luxury cars to the Philippines and another one about how he can rearrange his DVD collections efficiently. These type of problems just strike me as “non problems” and it was quite interesting to see it being pitched in Cebu. Those type of pitches would’ve had a different reaction elsewhere, but in the Philippines where most of the people can’t afford cars, the pitch would be falling into deaf ears. I guess that’s where knowing your market well comes into play.

As the teams form up, the ideas got polished and everybody starts piling up.I wasn’t able to talk to all of them but I noticed that most of them has a great sense of design. Most of the teams were really prepared and some went there to get mentoring and feedback for their ideas.

Teams formed up and ready

One of the teams I talked to was Codetoki. I love the passion of the founder and how she wants to solve the issue of lack of industry knowledge in fresh IT graduates. Her idea was to provide a platform for students to reach out to IT professionals and bridge the gap between school and the industry. She hopes that students and industry professionals will help each other and increase the competent talent pool of IT professionals in the Philippines.

Can’t help myself take a photo with Swan Hat guy

I also talked to AppsXL. I was really impressed with their design capabilities and it showed through their presentation and product. AppsXL is creating a platform for mobile developers to easily create applications using native code through several ready made templates. A number of apps on the Appstore follow a standard template, so if you are a developer and want to create a quick app for one of your clients, you can just purchase a template from AppsXL, skin the app and you’re ready to go. I can imagine AppsXL being similar to wordpress theme makers like woothemes but for a more niche market. Although their final presentation wasn’t solid, I think there’s a market for the idea. I wasn’t really convinced on how they priced their templates, $100 for a template, as I think it was quite low. Hope to see more from AppsXL as demand for mobile applications is rising.

One of my own personal goals aside from knowing more about the tech scene in Cebu was meeting the community. I have to thank Tina Ampers and Ian Tusil for inviting us and making us feel welcome.

Tina is the founder of, a technology meetup at Cebu. It’s a great way to meet the tech community in Cebu. Aside from her, I met some awesome guys from PhilDev, DevCon, MorphLabs, Kickstart Ventures by Globe, IdeaSpace by Smart, Microsoft, Google, a few local blogger communities and a lot more to mention.

I was excited to see all the support that everyone put in and I hope the teams that formed will continue building on their projects. From experience, some of the teams in Startup Weekend fizzle out but I hope the winning teams will continue on their projects and ship the products out for the market to try.

The winning teams at the end of the weekend were teams that focused on real problems. The first place winner was team WaitKnowMore. They are trying to solve the problem of waiting in line for common services like paying bills or waiting in line for the doctor. Their system will allow an establishment to inform a customer when it’s their turn in line while allowing advertisers to publicize deals for the customers waiting in line. There are existing systems like this out there, but I haven’t really seen or tried it personally. It’ll be great to see this properly implemented and give relief to waiting customers all over.

Keep yourself updated with the Startup Weekend Cebu team and their follow up events via their site at If you are interested to support technology events in the Philippines, either in Cebu or Manila, feel free to ping me and I’ll try to connect you to the right persons.

P.S. Make sure you stop by Cebu’s natural wonders. We stopped by Matayupan falls and the view was breath taking. You always see waterfalls on TV, but being there in person feeling the breeze of the water in your face is just refreshing. Cebu has a lot more to offer so make sure you explore the wonderful island.

LINQ to XML on Windows Phone 7

I was dabbling with Windows Phone 7 and I hit a bit of a snag with LINQ to XML as I need to access a web service that returns XML. I’m using API to access book information.

It’s a pretty standard task and most applications nowadays access some form of web services to add functionality to their apps. Just so you know, there are tons of resources online but I had to do a bit more debugging thus my guide (which I usually do for myself just in case I forget:) )

Make sure to check out Scott Gu’s excellent Twitter App tutorial that uses LINQ to XML. If you’re having a bit of difficulty grasping the concept, head over to MSDN as they have a very good overview/explanation of LINQ to XML.

On to my code.

I needed to download the XML based on my query string (easy enough) and I’ll get an output like this

- <ISBNdb server_time="2012-01-07T07:03:57Z">
- <BookList total_results="47" page_size="10" page_number="1" shown_results="10">
- <BookData book_id="akrasia_thief_of_time" isbn="1891153048" isbn13="9781891153044">
  <Title>Akrasia, Thief of Time</Title> 
  <TitleLong>Akrasia, Thief of Time (Eden Odyssey D20)</TitleLong> 
  <AuthorsText>David Chart,</AuthorsText> 
  <PublisherText publisher_id="eden_studios">Eden Studios</PublisherText> 
- <BookData book_id="a_thief_on_morgans_plantation" isbn="1881889629" isbn13="9781881889625">
  <Title>A Thief on Morgan's Plantation</Title> 
  <TitleLong>A Thief on Morgan's Plantation (Mysteries in Time)</TitleLong> 
  <AuthorsText>Lisa Banim, Tatyana Yuditskaya (Illustrator)</AuthorsText> 
  <PublisherText publisher_id="silver_moon_press">Silver Moon Press</PublisherText> 

So it’s your job to make sense out of that output.

When using LINQ to XML make sure you include references to System.Xml.linq.

Downloading and querying the Web Service is straight forward.

private void search_book(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
             Uri serviceUri = new Uri(("" + Title_textbox.Text ));

            WebClient client = new WebClient();

            client.DownloadStringCompleted += new DownloadStringCompletedEventHandler(downloader_Completed);


search_book is just an event handler for a button or “enter”.
The Uri is where you put the web service then I parse with my search item.
WebClient handles all the webby stuff.
There’s a bunch of ways you can do the next step but all it does is proceed to downloader_Completed once the download is complete. That’s where all the LINQ stuff comes in as you already have the XML. Now it’s time to make sense of it.
You need the DownloadStringAsync with the URI that we defined awhile ago.

void downloader_Completed(object sender, DownloadStringCompletedEventArgs e)

            if (e.Error != null)

            XElement booksDL = XElement.Parse(e.Result);

            var list = (from c in booksDL.Descendants("BookData")
                            new book_class
                                Book_title = c.Element("Title").Value

            ObservableCollection books = new ObservableCollection(list);
            listBox1.ItemsSource = books;


Line 4 – First off, if there’s an error just exit out of the function.
Line 7 – MSDN has a good article on the different classes that you can use when using LINQ to XML. Depends on your needs, but XElement usually is good enough for basic stuff.
Line 9 – This is where all my pain arised. Not being used to how XML are traversed along with the multitude of methods in XElement, I seeked help from my awesome friends and Bok showed me how to debug it.
Line 11 – Of course you need a class to be able to receive the data so I created a book_class with the appropriate properties. (I simplified the example to only handle book_title)

namespace librarian
    public class book_class
        public string Book_title { get; set; }

Make sure that you are getting something back.
You would need a good idea of what the structure of the XML is so that you know what method to use. The ISBNdb XML return is about 3 nodes deep but the concept is pretty much the same for any XML return.

In this example I was trying to figure out if I’m getting anything back based on my query and it looks like I got the correct entries.

Lastly, line 16 & 17 just passes the list to listbox that I have defined in the XAML. Bok suggested to use ObservableCollection as it updates the variable in case your data has changed as it always “observes the collection”.
Once you pass it to the listbox, you can have more event handlers there like when they click an entry.

That’s it for my simple tutorial of LINQ to XML. Of course, there are a lot more resources out there but I wanted to focus on the simplicity of my example to get to you to access web services easily.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and if you think there are better ways to do my example, please do suggest.