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App for mobile Web provides opportunity for start-ups, meet told

Mobile-phone innovation has great potential for Thai start-ups, a Bangkok forum heard yesterday.

The panellists at the IIT-SEA Mobile Forum, which was organised by the Israeli Embassy's economic and trade mission, included Ardent Capital co-founder and executive chairman Paul Srivorakul - who said the mobile Web was the trend at the moment.

He said accessing the Internet via a mobile device had the three "Cs" - content, community and commerce.

Currently around 40-50 per cent of Internet traffic comes from mobiles, while 20-30 per cent of e-commerce transactions comes from such devices, he said.

"Line is a chat app that started with stickers and now provides e-commerce," Paul said.

"The real challenge for start-ups is they need to have a solid business and processes to generate money. Now, Line has 27 million users in Thailand and has already surpassed Facebook here."

The forum heard that the app sector is so big that it provided huge opportunities for Thailand's mobile innovations. Apps represent everything - fun, business, lifestyle - and are not limited to the Thai market. They have global market potential.

Pairoj Walwanijchakij, vice president for digital-product management at Advance Info Service, said the trends of mobile innovation in Thailand included mobile, cloud computing and big data.

"Data analysis of consumer behaviour is the biggest challenge for mobile operators," Pairoj said.

In the mobile era, over-the-top (OTT) service providers are playing an important role in creating and increasing Internet traffic via the mobile network.

But Pairoj warned: "To provide a platform as the service for OTT is not a successful model, since they have cloud computing as the best alternative."

After being rolled out a year and a half ago, he said AIS's third-generation network now covered 95 per cent of the population. Around 18,000 base stations have been set up and some will support 4G once licences for the spectrum that supports it are provided, he said.

There are good opportunities for Thai and Israeli start-ups to form partnerships in mobile innovation, the forum heard.

Meanwhile, David Heller, general partner of Vertex Venture Capital, said Israel was a start-up nation with an ecosystem of venture capitalists and dozens of incubators, accelerators and repeat entrepreneurs.

He said it had more than 4,800 active start-up companies, with more than 600 created every year.

It had between US$1 billion and $2 billion (Bt32 billion to Bt65 billion) in venture-capital investments in high-tech companies annually.

"Venture-capital funds are the main source of capital for high-tech start-up companies," Heller said.

He added that a lot of leading technologies were pioneered in Israel, including Google Suggest, instant messaging (ICQ) and voice-over IP (Viber).


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