Increasing Access From Homes
In my immediate past article about having cheap broadband in our country, I made mention about the recent results of the 3rd Yahoo-Nielsen Net Index Survey where it was revealed that a shift from shared to private access is fast shaping up in the Philippines. Worded another way, the study showed online browsing through i-cafés declined from seventy-one (71%) percent to sixty-six (66%) percent, while Internet access from homes increased from thirty-one (31%) percent to thirty-five (35%) percent over the past two (2) years.
The trend shown in the surveys can be attributed not only to cheap-priced broadband access but likewise to lower cost of computers nowadays. Brand-new entry-level desktop computer and printer can now be had for as low as PhP15,000.00 while prepaid Internet access for thirty (30) days using 3G USB dongles (Smart BRO) costs only PhP300.00 (with 350MB download limit). Other reasons cited for the growth of the home-based access include bundled hardware offerings by telcos and the need for household members to acquire Internet access to connect with other family members working and/or living abroad.
While the initial reactions posted in the forums by the stakeholders in the i-café industry were more of denial, they cannot totally ignore the fact that they are feeling the pinch. They reason out that their gaming customers still prefer to play in their i-cafés because doing so at home is not the norm. That maybe true but the statistics on what Filipino netizens do when they go online shows that gaming is not on top of our web activities. Below is a copy of what we do when we go online:
Our increasing Internet access from homes, while not indicative of better income, should be a welcome development. While it really means losing customers for some i-cafés, I wish to say that not all is lost for the industry. Using the above as guide, modifying the business model of existing i-café may help.
I-cafes are still here to stay. Due to the increasing economic crunch caused by fears of US recession and the political turmoil in the Middle East, many of the below middle classes may forego home based internet, smart phones, ipads and other gadgets in favor of more important living necessities. Of course, the lower classes are contented with low end mobile phones purely for texting and occasional important calls. Thus, they are more inclined to patronize neighborhood I-cafes for social networking, surfing, research, etc.
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