Five coolest SMS applications in ASEAN

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Smart Txtbks, a new SMS app in the Philippines

While the use of smartphones is on a rapid rise throughout ASEAN, many people are still heavy SMS users, with industry experts estimating hundreds of millions of people as an untapped potential for entrepreneurs with smart SMS applications.

For example, there have been studies that Indonesian mobile users have a passion for SMS text to voice usage with a ratio of 10:1, resulting in a total of 60 to 70 billion SMS messages a year. The Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission estimates that an average of 250 million SMS messages are sent per day. In most ASEAN countries, SMS has been spectacularly successful especially among students, youth and young adults attracted by low costs and carrier promotions, as well as rural people.

Start-ups are now increasingly tapping into this market. Below are 5 examples of how this communication behaviour can be transformed into business models.

In the Philippines, a startup called Smart Communications with its initiative Smart Txtbks is putting textbooks and learning materials onto a SIM card so that the material can be read as SMS. The idea not only brought much-needed learning resources to deprived Filipino students, but literally lightened their load as well – all they needed to bring to school are their affordable feature phones instead of heavy textbooks. Smart Communications and creative ad agency DM9JaymeSyfu in June 2013 bagged the Mobile Grand Prix for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

In Vietnam, SeTechViet built a small device with a SIM in it called S-Bike. This device can be installed on a motorbike and can give all sorts of data to users. If called, it gives the GPS location, which can be useful for delivery companies or in case of a bike theft. If texted, it can active an alarm or turn on or off the motorbike. The potential is huge: In Vietnam, there are over 33.4 million motorbikes and over 140 million mobile phones.

Another startup in Vietnam, VeXeRe, has developed an SMS booking system for bus tickets. The application sends tickets to users straight to their SMS, avoiding all the hassle of queuing up for tickets or printing them. The concept will now be expanded to trains.

In Singapore, startup Sent.ly is partnering with delivery services and online stores with a new SMS service that allows users to send SMS through an Android application. The system allows businesses to notify customers of delivery or queue status, obtain customer feedback on services or celebrate customers’ birthdays with special discount codes, all with simple SMS messages.

Focusing on fun stickers sent per SMS is Indonesian startup Aiti with its product Unyu. It provides an SMS application that displays funny pop-up characters, emoticons and avatars using SMS transmission instead of data. The service can be used for Android, Java-empowered devices and Blackberry. The business model relates to sending tailored advertisement on SMS pop-ups.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Smart Txtbks, a new SMS app in the Philippines

While the use of smartphones is on a rapid rise throughout ASEAN, many people are still heavy SMS users, with industry experts estimating hundreds of millions of people as an untapped potential for entrepreneurs with smart SMS applications.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Lesson
Smart Txtbks, a new SMS app in the Philippines

While the use of smartphones is on a rapid rise throughout ASEAN, many people are still heavy SMS users, with industry experts estimating hundreds of millions of people as an untapped potential for entrepreneurs with smart SMS applications.

For example, there have been studies that Indonesian mobile users have a passion for SMS text to voice usage with a ratio of 10:1, resulting in a total of 60 to 70 billion SMS messages a year. The Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission estimates that an average of 250 million SMS messages are sent per day. In most ASEAN countries, SMS has been spectacularly successful especially among students, youth and young adults attracted by low costs and carrier promotions, as well as rural people.

Start-ups are now increasingly tapping into this market. Below are 5 examples of how this communication behaviour can be transformed into business models.

In the Philippines, a startup called Smart Communications with its initiative Smart Txtbks is putting textbooks and learning materials onto a SIM card so that the material can be read as SMS. The idea not only brought much-needed learning resources to deprived Filipino students, but literally lightened their load as well – all they needed to bring to school are their affordable feature phones instead of heavy textbooks. Smart Communications and creative ad agency DM9JaymeSyfu in June 2013 bagged the Mobile Grand Prix for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

In Vietnam, SeTechViet built a small device with a SIM in it called S-Bike. This device can be installed on a motorbike and can give all sorts of data to users. If called, it gives the GPS location, which can be useful for delivery companies or in case of a bike theft. If texted, it can active an alarm or turn on or off the motorbike. The potential is huge: In Vietnam, there are over 33.4 million motorbikes and over 140 million mobile phones.

Another startup in Vietnam, VeXeRe, has developed an SMS booking system for bus tickets. The application sends tickets to users straight to their SMS, avoiding all the hassle of queuing up for tickets or printing them. The concept will now be expanded to trains.

In Singapore, startup Sent.ly is partnering with delivery services and online stores with a new SMS service that allows users to send SMS through an Android application. The system allows businesses to notify customers of delivery or queue status, obtain customer feedback on services or celebrate customers’ birthdays with special discount codes, all with simple SMS messages.

Focusing on fun stickers sent per SMS is Indonesian startup Aiti with its product Unyu. It provides an SMS application that displays funny pop-up characters, emoticons and avatars using SMS transmission instead of data. The service can be used for Android, Java-empowered devices and Blackberry. The business model relates to sending tailored advertisement on SMS pop-ups.

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