HTC beats rivals with Burmese fonts

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Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has become the latest entrant to the formerly isolated Myanmar market in an apparent bid to beat rivals Samsung and Apple.

HTC launched its smartphones in Myanmar on January 14, which will come with the world’s most advanced Burmese language on-screen keyboard to date.

In 2011, the World Bank listed Myanmar as the country with lowest mobile penetration rate in Asia at just 3 per cent. Myanmar, in fact, is one of the last greenfield telecom opportunities in the world, and ranks among the lowest in phone ownership.

Currently there are only two mobile phone carriers in the country, Myanmar Posts & Telecommunications and Yatanarpon Teleport Co, both of which are controlled by the government.

This will change if the country’s telecommunication regulator plans to draft a law that would create five new telecom operator licenses comes about.

3G SIM cards are available with data, but carry a hefty price tag of $220 to $230 dollars, and users must wait one week to register for the service.

Officials at Myanmar Posts & Telecommunications have announced that by mid-January 2013, 3G SIM cards will be available for the reduced price of $174, yet these prices, and those of simple SIMS valued at $20, still remain out of reach for many Myanmar citizens. 

About author

Justin Calderon

Justin Calderon is a research analyst for Inside Investor based in Manila, Philippines. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Newsweek (Japan), CNN Travel, GlobalPost, Global Times and The Nation (Bangkok). Living in and out of Asia since 2006, Justin spent two years in Shanghai working for a popular B2B magazine. He also hunkered himself down in Taipei for two years to teach English and study traditional Chinese characters. He is a Mandarin and Thai reader and speaker.

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