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Mar12
21

The New Apple iPad in Asia: One Size Does Not Fit All

Posted by: Ian Song in Personal Tech @ 6:09 PM

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Ian Song

On March 8th, Apple announced the arrival of its Media Tablet, the “new iPad”, although it will very likely to be referred to, or renamed as iPad 3 once it hit the market. For the first time in iPad history, it will be made available in Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore on the same date as the U.S. launch, on March 16th, 2012.

Perhaps the biggest feature update in the new iPad is the arrival of Retina display on a tablet device. The new iPad sports a resolution of 2048x1536 on a 9.7 inch, 4:3 aspect ratio screen, by far the highest resolution screen available on a tablet today. The resolution on the new iPad is actually higher than most HD monitors and HDTVs commercially available. Other hardware features on the new iPad includes the new dual-core, Apple branded A5X processor with quad-core GPU, 4G LTE connectivity, and much improved camera.

Interestingly enough, the new iPad’s 4G capability will only be enabled with selected partners in North America for the time being. With so many countries on the initial launch date, customers outside of North America are limited to 3G connectivity. Carriers in the three Asia/Pacific countries on the initial launch list have all introduced LTE enabled devices in their respective markets. It seems that the decision of limiting LTE to North America is business driven rather than due to technical limitations. IDC does expect Apple to release updates in the near future that will enable LTE in the Asia/Pacific region once it finalizes agreements with regional carriers - and when the carriers introduce iPad-specific LTE data plans.

On the software front, Apple has rolled out iOS 5.1 to support the new iPad. Apple has also introduced iPhoto for the iPad, and at the same time updated iMove and iWork to take advantage of the new camera and screen. With the new iPad, Apple now has the complete iLife and iWork suites of products available on its tablet platform.

With the announcement of the new iPad, Apple seems to be repositioning its tablet to become more of a content generating device. Traditionally, Media Tablets live in a grey space between PCs (content generation) and smartphones (content consumption), where it can generate some content, but mostly as a device to consume. The new iPad has the hardware guts and software support to become a more serious threat to full PCs in luring away first time PC buyers as well as PC users looking to replace/upgrade in markets with more affluent consumers. In fact, IDC believes that the upcoming generation of Media Tablets, not just the iPad, could become more capable replacement to traditional PCs, and thus increase the cannibalization effect on PC sales on the consumer market.

While there is no denying that Apple dominates the Media Tablet market, some consumers in the Asia/Pacific region could gravitate toward to more compact-sized iPads, even if the smaller Samsung-based tablets have had limited traction thus far.  This is due how tablets are utilized in many countries here: more consumers use tablets on public transit or while standing up, where the iPad’s relatively bulky size becomes less of an advantage. The Asia/Pacific region represents some of the fastest growing tablet markets in the world, and the new iPad, while impressive, may not always fit Asian consumer lifestyles. It will be interesting if rumors surrounding smaller-sized iOS-based tablets eventually come out to cater to that demographic.

Of course, the arrival of the new iPad means the current generation iPad 2 will become more affordable. However, IDC is doubtful the cheaper iPad 2 will connect with all Asian buyers. Consumers in Asia/Pacific, while price sensitive, could be more likely to buy into the latest technology, in part simply because of its use as a status symbol. At USD$399, the iPad 2 is still priced at a level where arguably superior Android based tablets live, and Apple may find the cheaper iPad 2s less of a hit with consumers once the new iPad becomes available.

Where iPad 2 could succeed in Asia Pacific is the education and public sectors. At a cheaper retail price of USD$399, Apple could potentially make iPad 2s even cheaper by "white-boxing" (or unbranding) them, thus making the tablet more attractive to Asian institutional buyers. Many governments around Asia are actively evaluating bringing tablet solutions into classrooms (Thailand is a good example), which is in line with Apple’s own aspiration of making the iPad an educational tool. iPad is an incredibly sticky solution given the ecosystem support it has. So it may be worth Apple’s while in making iPad 2 a loss leader into Asian institutions.

Another opportunity for iPad 2 would be in the commercial sector, which may be a hit with Asia/Pacific enterprises. At a lower price point, enterprise may be more willing to make tablets available for their employees. Even without the fancy bells and whistles of the new iPad, iPad 2 is still a solid performer in corporate environment, especially when it comes to mobility. In fact, Apple has been able to make headway into the enterprise without much effort on its own. IDC believes that the iPad 2 could potentially break through with many enterprises in the region with applicable use cases, proper management, and a more active local sales force.

Overall, Apple’s new iPad is more evolutionary than revolutionary, despite the impressive advances made. Regardless, the new iPad will be a big hit in the region. With the new iPad becoming available in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore on March 16th, and Macau a week later, IDC anticipates that the new iPad will be a big grey market item for the rest of Asia - including China. While Apple's current legal battle with ProView may slow down the new iPad's adoption in mainland China, many retailers will nevertheless carry grey market iPads as the profits on the new iPad prove to be too lucrative to pass up.

For the Asia/Pacific markets, Apple could be leaving money on the table by not addressing the potential need to have a more compact iOS-based tablet. Nevertheless, the iPad announcement is a glimpse into Apple’s overall iOS roadmap for 2012. IDC expects that many features in the new iPad will make it into the iPhone 5, which is surely to be announcement later in the year. More importantly, the upcoming iPhone announcement may be Apple’s last chance to bring a larger smartphone (or a smaller tablet) to the market in order to complete its portfolio of iOS devices.

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Mar12
16

AhnLab Announces Entrance into the US Market: What this means

Posted by: Naveen Hegde in Software @ Your Service @ 4:50 PM

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Naveen Hegde
AhnLab announced the delivery of its security products and services to the US market during the RSA Conference 2012. This is a significant move from Korea's largest security company to position it as a global security-technology provider. The company offers a range of products and services including endpoint software, network security appliances, to mobile security.

AhnLab, in the earlier days was heavily focused on the antivirus market and was trying to find a way to expand as the AV market is becoming highly saturated. Ahnlab invested resources on development of new technology and tried to expand its business model by offering appliances as well as services to its customers. This move was successful and helped to diversify its revenue stream as well as increase its customer base. As security threat levels are evolving and changing quickly, vendors with more complete solutions such as Ahnlab, are gaining competitiveness in the market. This is because products like Ahnlab can provide centralized management of security threats by utilizing its software, hardware and service capability.

AhnLab announced its three strategies to deliver its advanced security products and services to the US market. The company’s strategy includes: the expansion of partnerships and distribution channels; delivering its specialized security solutions for each industry’s requirement; and strengthening the market through local marketing activities.

Some of the interesting points which are highlighted in the press release are:

  • Cosmi Finance LLC is to bring AhnLab V3 Secure Cloud antivirus solution to OfficeMax in March 2012, and US-based other big box retailers in near future.
  • For technical partnerships, AhnLab has partnered with SafeNet. AhnLab recently announced that SafeNet’s eToken USB-based authenticators are integrated with AhnLab’s AOS Security Secure Browser and AOS Anti-Key Logger to ensure the authentication of US Cornerstone Community Bank’s internet banking users and transactions.
  • AhnLab will work together with Intel, Inc. to bring more robust security performance to its solutions. AhnLab will integrate Intel’s leading hardware-security technology ranging from Intel® Core™ processor-based Ultrabook to Intel® Xeon® processor-based server platform with its industry-leading software security technology.
  • AhnLab is planning to deliver its specialized security solutions and values to meet each industry’s requirements. AhnLab Online Security (AOS), an integrated security service for online transactions, including internet banking, to protect against security threats such as ZeuS and Spyeye, is already delivered to Santander, Bannamex in South America and Cornerstone Community Bank in US. It will help global financial institutions to fulfill the guidelines such as FFIEC’s.
  • AhnLab V3 Secure Cloud is an integrated security suite that protects against the latest security threats to computer and Android mobile device by combining real-time antivirus and anti-spyware with network, web, email security and PC management tools in a single integrated solution. Since the product covers both PC and Android users, and has a strong retailer, OfficeMax, AhnLab will focus on delivering integrated security values to both individual PC and mobile users.

IDC believes that this move will boost AhnLab's business and help to recognize it as a global security player. It has clearly emerged as a market leader in Korea but it would be very interesting to watch how they do business in the US. As we transition into a decade of innovation and industry transformation enabled by the four pillars of technology: cloud, mobility, social and big data; security will be playing a very crucial part. This environment will be supporting millions of current and next-generation industry solutions and is designed to compete at emerging markets scale and economics. With AhnLab's recent entry into the mobile security market, IDC believes that the company's opportunities will continue to expand in the growing identity ecosystem.

As IDC mentioned in its predictions, there are challenges that Asian vendors face as they expand into foreign markets. In order to mitigate this, vendors should have the right plan in place and more significantly, the right team to execute it. In many cases, having the right team will involve hiring local employees and providing them with the ability to localize products and business decisions. Also, any expansion into a new market requires bridging cultural and operational gulfs, and many businesses have difficulty doing this well. To go global, they have to overcome disadvantages in talent acquisition, technology and brand recognition. Additionally, tapping international channels can pose a challenge.

IDC believes that to evolve into one of the leading IT vendors, AhnLab will need to invest further in enhancing its endpoint, mobile security and services capabilities, especially with regard to cloud, vulnerability management, governance, regulations and compliance (GRC). Additionally, the expansion and the building of a larger company involve strong partners and alliances, which AhnLab must work on achieving.

Despite these challenges, IDC believes that this offering is well suited to customer needs. If AhnLab is able to ensure that they are properly developing and measuring the marketing and execution plan, this offering will be successful in the market.

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Mar12
14

FSI Movers and Shakers Converge on Marina Bay Sands

Posted by: Isabelle Chan in The Inner Circle @ 10:53 AM

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Isabelle Chan

The Who's Who in the Asia/Pacific region's financial services industry converged on Marina Bay Sands in Feburary to discuss hot-button topics, including the twin-challenge of disruption and innovation.

Some 700 executives from the top global and regional retail and investment banks, insurers and capital markets firms turned up at IDC Financial Insights' Eighth Asian Financial Services (AFS) Congress themed, "Solutions for Disruptive Times."

Day-one speaker presentations by executives from OCBC Bank, Asian Development Bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and DBS set the stage for further discussions on hot topics like customer centricity, emerging Asia opportunities and challenges, and competitve innovation, which were carried throughout the two-day conference.

Case study presentations by CIMB Group, HDFC Bank India and Westpac gave an added boost, as there is nothing like real-life examples to provide clarity and guidance when implementing new business processes, applications or technologies.

We also conducted a survey on Day One of the two-day conference to get a pulse of the banking industry in terms of business expectations.  About 72% of the 127 senior decision makers who participated expect revenue to grow by up to 10% in 2012. Another 12% predict growth to exceed 10%, altogether lending much optimism to the region’s banking outlook for 2012.

Drop us an email if you missed this year's event and would like to find out how you can catch up on the latest industry trends or be part of next year's speaker lineup.

Below: Executive panel discussion on "The 2012 Marketplace -- Is it 2008 all over again?", moderated by veteran tech journalist Grace Chng who is a senior correspondent with The Straits Times. Seated from left to right: Grace Chng; David Carbon, MD, Economic and Currency Research, DBS Bank; Patrick Desmares, Secretary General, Efma; Marko M. Skoric, Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and informaiton, NTU; Leong Mun Yuen, CTO, IDA Singapore. 

 

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Mar12
09

Asian Banking Becomes More Asian

Posted by: Michael Araneta in A.F.S. @ 10:10 AM

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Michael Araneta

In the document Asia/Pacific Banking 2012 Top 10 Predictions: Shattering the Myths of 2012 (Doc # FIN231444, December 2011), we discussed how growth in the number of banking institutions that now compete in Asia/Pacific confirms the region's growing importance to the financial services industry worldwide. From mid-2010 to the last quarter of 2011, the number of banks operating in theregion grew 5.8%, from 907 to 960. We expect this level of growth to be sustained in 2012 and into the medium term. 

In this regard, India's increasingly open environment and China's loosening controls on foreign participation make India and China the most likely markets to witness even more growth in new competitors.Meanwhile, altogether new banking institutions may also debut in countries like Malaysia and Australia where regulators have recently allowed new bank licenses. The former directs its initiative to the Middle East to boost its stature as an Islamic banking hub, while the latter hopes to elevate local credit unions and regional lenders. 

We also would like to note the commitments being made by the ASEAN countries to lower barriers in their financial services industry. Table 1 provides a list of the subsectors that will be liberalized in several ASEAN markets by 2015, alongside the supposed creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The table gives us a a road map of how an intra-ASEAN market for banking and related services is being developed, as well as an indication of where new players will emerge in more significant numbers.

Table 1: Liberalization Commitments in ASEAN Financial Services

 

New players, of course, will provide additional frenzy to the competition becoming ever so vibrant in key business areas such as lending and deposits. Whether these players are on a greenfield strategy as they enter new territories or are part of a superregional strategy of a parent institution (also read our discussion on superregional strategies in Business Strategy: Mergers, Acquisitions, and Consolidations in Asia/Pacific Banking — Where Are the Hot Spots?, Document # FIN231313, November 2011), we assume that these new market entrants will be punching above their weight to acquire marketshare as quickly as possible, becoming threats to complacent incumbents. In the aspect of IT-related investments, these new players too will provide additional uplift to the size of spending as they will be investing in foundational systems — and usually in high-spend growth areas such as core banking systems and channel systems. 

Amidst all these, we believe that the winners will be Asia/Pacific-based institutions that go beyond their borders and address the opportunities in the broader region. They have the inherent advantages of local knowledge and local roots of course, but they also have the advantage of the 2012 circumstance. European or U.S. institutions are distracted by concerns in their own home markets, and now is the chance for Asia/Pacific financial institutions to build their might at home.

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Mar12
07

New Technologies will Help Singapore Government Mature Faster

Posted by: Frank Levering in GovSpace @ 4:58 PM

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Frank Levering

IDC Government Insights has created a maturity model that describes the various stages a government must transcend to become a smarter government. This model studies 4 stages for citizen participation, information transparency and collaboration to deliver citizen services as displayed in the figure below.

Singapore and its government are very actively involved in a process to continuously self-improve and have proven not to shy away from being the pioneer when it comes to embracing new developments and technologies. Singapore is highly regarded in the region and often provides a case study other governments can base their strategy on. Its highly structured and efficient processes are the key strengths but also the area where the biggest improvements can be made. Such well-defined environments provide a solid base for a highly functional and facilitating government. Unfortunately, it also leaves very little room for individual decision making and dealing with unexpected scenarios and/or exceptions to the rule. As Singapore continues to seek the highest level of smart government maturity, it would benefit strongly if the government managed to keep some of the decision-making responsibilities and situation-dependent requirements at the level of the officials dealing directly with citizens. The smarter and more technologically advanced government-to-citizen processes get, the heavier it will rely on these citizen-facing government people to understand and judge the exceptions and outliers the automated process cannot capture. 

Citizen development
Where a government conversation in the past would consist of a letter in the mail to educate the citizen, it is now a dialogue or even a collaboration to really address needs and concerns in the community. The proposed SOPA legislation in the USA is another great example. 'The internet' brought together such a large group of citizens expressing their concerns regarding this legislation, that most politicians and companies previously openly supporting the proposal changed their position to align with the view of the people they represent/ sell to. At the theoretical highest level of smart and mature governments, the government representatives and citizens would have collaborated to create a proposed legislation that achieves the goal of the government within the limits of citizen acceptation. Specifically for Singapore, it has nurtured its citizens to where they are now and is likely to see their citizens steadily asking for more responsibilities and influence to contribute to its future growth. This may well mean that there will be less rules and regulations to control citizens, as they are being replaced by the community responsibilities and the collaboration efforts between government and citizens. 

The new technology evolution
A number of important government departments have created avenues for citizen feedback and dialogue. These efforts will continue to expand, embracing new technologies and means to communicate. Citizens tend to focus their newfound influence on scrutinizing the government on details that affect them personally. As long as both parties invest in this reinvented relationship there will be an evolutionary path to true citizen-directed government. Singapore has taken a number of the necessary steps to get that process started and created the right environment for that evolution to take place. So far we haven't seen much activity from the local development community in Singapore to really leverage the information shared freely by the government. In contrast, the NEA has done a great job creating its own mobile application for citizens. They deliver critically important information there, such as air quality and dengue threat areas. This application has the ability to incorporate citizen-provided information, allows feedback and shares an event calendar to enable a face-to-face dialogue.  Most of the relevant department information for citizens has found its way online and is now easily accessible. A number of forms and processes have found their way to an online format as well much to the convenience of its users. It is not always clear when the online process can be used and when the traditional process still has to take place. This is one of the challenges of the transition through these stages. The biggest improvements will come when citizens find an online one-stop-shop for the process they need, even if that process involves multiple government departments. Especially the G-Cloud initiative in Singapore will have a big impact on how easily departments can collaborate. 

Social media
Social media are still relatively new and there are very few best practices available to show governments how to get the most out of social media in a safe and secure fashion. In fact, the developments and learnings are still coming in at such a high pace that previous best practices might not be applicable anymore. Citizens might be satisfied initially with any attempt to embrace new media, but that sentiment turns to scrutiny very rapidly. In order to get the most out of social media in a secure fashion, there will be social environments solely created to interact between government departments. Separately, there should be a strategy for a (cautious) presence accessible to citizens where the learning curve can start, but also where damage control is relatively easy. I'd say the main challenge is to create an environment that is highly stimulating for dialogue and collaboration while avoiding undesirable consequences of that dialogue. Communicating via social media isn't always rich in context and misinterpretations or poor phrasing can go viral among citizens at a high pace to a large audience. McDonald's recently found out the hard way that it is very easy to become a worst practice. They created a Twitter hashtag to share McDonald's stories, intended to positively highlight the stories of its suppliers that contribute to their experience. Maybe McDonald's was hoping to attract people's happy messages about the restaurants at a central location, but instead they attracted the attention of animal rights activists and a wide variety of consumers sharing their worst experience. Within 2 hours they withdrew the hashtag as a damage control measure, but not before they became the worst practice example very publicly. On the bright side, they responded relatively fast to an uncontrollable tweetjacking situation. From a government CIO perspective though, if McDonald's was a government agency there would have been a lot more negative impact and perhaps permanent damage to the evolution in citizen-government collaboration. 

Technology and government requirements mismatch
Unless it is an internal government tool, especially created for that purpose, the various commercial tools and apps are simply not built to facilitate the unique and specific needs of government officials. Maybe these new variations compare well to how governments handle email. There are rules and guidelines for communication, some features will be disabled to keep information and the network secure, different levels of authority with different rights have been defined. Most of these new communication means are offered as services and cannot be implemented in a customized fashion appropriate for government usage. IT leaders will be tempted to block all these new services until they have defined the behavioral guidelines and created some level of control over what individuals can and cannot do. 

New technologies are high impact, but not huge change catalysts
Social media and mobile applications are a very welcome addition to e-government technologies and tools. Just like the fallback scenario of physical locations for online processes needs to co-exist for a long time, these new tools will not replace the existing scenarios. Citizens benefit significantly though, as they get more options to address their needs. Some savvy users will come to rely very heavily on these new technologies while others won't even have access to them for a long time to come. 
 

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