December 23, 2011

Digital content key to growth for Kingdom’s telecom firms


CAMBODIAN telecoms must produce digital content to remain competitive in the country’s crowded sector, experts said yesterday.

However, others claimed the consumer market for that content was still too small.

A lack of domestically produced TV programs, websites and other digital offerings has Cambodia’s estimated 755,000 internet users searching abroad, International Data Group ASEAN CEO Tam Le said yesterday during a press conference.

The production of domestic content would boost the already-fierce competition among the Kingdom’s nine active mobile operators and 12 active internet service providers, he said.

“The thing is that [domestic] content in Cambodia is very limited,” Tam Le said, adding, “[Providing digital content] is a way for operators to survive.”

Vietnam’s domestically generated content has increased rapidly over the past seven years, especially with the government’s support. The country now has more than 300 TV channels and 400 portal websites, which are keeping internet users’ in the domestic space, Tam Le said.

Although limited efforts exist to create content in the Khmer language for domestic users, there is concern about the potential profitability and competitiveness that these products would hold.

“[Telecoms] will not win by producing their own content. They will win by producing access to content,” Mike Gaertner, chief operating officer at CDIC Information Technology, said yesterday of Cambodian attempts to replicate social media sites such as Facebook.

“Facebook, Twitter and Youtube will dominate in social media. There’s just not a big enough local market.”

Market potential lies in producing the easiest access to foreign products and content such as Facebook and Youtube, Gaertner said.

Local news content, however – the likes of which CDIC’s portal website Sabay provides – should be in demand in the future if Cambodians learn to search for information in Khmer, he added.

Preconceptions about the quality of Cambodian digital content detracts from domestic demand, said Steven Path, CEO at AngkorOne, a US-based company and web portal that focuses on Khmer-language content for Cambodians around the world.

“The perception is that foreign products are superior to Cambodian products,” Path said yesterday. “If it says ‘made in Cambodia’ they think it is inferior. And that’s the same with the internet. They need to get over that stigma.”

Although not in the short-term future of Cambodia’s digital space, digital content would inevitably be produced in Cambodia, Path added.

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