Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Friday, November 23, 2007

Google eyes more user-generated content for Filipino users

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino Google engineers from Mountain View, California met with some local developers this week to convince local developers as well as users to generate more content for Filipino users.

Google Country Consultant Aileen Apolo has blogged about the recent meeting of the Filipino Google engineers with some local developers.

In an interview, Derek Callow, marketing manager of Google for Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, said the recent initiative is part of a local push for iGoogle and other platforms created by the Internet giant.

Hoping to become the platform for developers and users to create original content, Callow said that Google is now creating "base products" that would allow users and developers to build applications on top of these web platforms.

iGoogle, for one, is Google's answer to the "mash-up" phenomenon where developers and users alike can create so-called "widgets" or, in the case of Google, "gadgets" which are small applications that could be merged in a personalized portal. He said that users who don't necessarily know computer coding can create their own Google "gadgets" using a web application aptly called "Gadget creator."

There are currently about 200,000 Google gadgets available to iGoogle. About 20 percent of users in the US are now going through iGoogle, the executive added.

Callow said web platforms like iGoogle will increasingly allow people to create their own content and share it with friends and the rest of the people on the web.

"The Internet experience is becoming more personal. We're realizing platforms should allow more user-generated content," he said.

Callow is in the Philippines to present the current trends in online advertising to media buyers in a scheduled Ad Congress in Subic, Zambales.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CICT, DTI team up to pursue outsourcing growth

By Lawrence Casiraya

The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) is collaborating with two key government agencies to develop more ICT hubs that can accommodate outsourcing-related investments.

BPA/P, an umbrella group covering different segments within BPO, announced it will sign a memorandum of agreement on Thursday with the Commission on ICT (CICT) and the Department of Trade and Industry-Regional Operations Group (DTI-ROG).

DTI undersecretary Carissa Cruz-Evangelista and CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua will represent their respective agencies in the MOA signing.

This collaboration is aligned with BPA/P's target to grow industry revenues to at least $12 billion and add more than half a million more workers by 2010.

According to BPA/P, the partnership with the government will cover the following initiatives:

• developing an industry-wide outsourcing and offshoring "scorecard" which would identify each location's capabilities in terms of human resource, business environment, ICT infrastructure, telecommunications cost, real estate, etc.

• institutionalizing the ICT councils within these designated hubs representing the private sector and local government units

• creating ICT strategic plans for these hubs, strengthening their available ICT resources, developing niches/centers of IT excellence, and assisting in marketing and promotional efforts

The overall goal is to generate more revenues for the industry and employment opportunities in the provinces.

Under the current administration's CyberServices Corridor project, the CICT has already identified some 35 locations nationwide that can be developed into ICT hubs.

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Auction.ph surpasses 1M users

By Lawrence Casiraya

Korean-owned Auction.ph says it has already registered more than one million users after two years operating as an online marketplace.

The company said it has surpassed the one million mark this month and expects to end the year with 1.2 million registered users.

In a statement, Auction.ph reported its membership increased by more than 200 percent for the third quarter alone. Average number of daily page views rose more than double to more than 180,000 from the previous quarter.

The site has stepped up marketing efforts since the start of the year, signing up a celebrity endorsement, promos via SMS and other offline activities aimed at attracting users.

For the third quarter alone, the site recorded more than 600,000 new registered users.

“The sharp increase in the number of our users can be attributed to our online promos and events. In addition, we’re supporting these online promos offline," said Jenny Kim, the site's vice president and chief marketing officer, via email.

Auction.ph received P150, 000 in capital from two Japanese investors in March and expects another round of funding before the year-end.

User registration on the site is still free and sellers and buyers are not yet charged transaction fees. The strategy is to grow the user base first in the first two to three years.

“Our numbers continue to grow, which is a strong indicator of e-commerce boom in the near future," Kim said.

The company, which holds offices at Clark Ecozone in Pampanga, was founded by CEO and president Oh Hyuk, who started a similar auction site in Korea that was eventually acquired by US online retailer eBay


Globe, Smart say they can do ZTE’s job

By Efren L. Danao, Manila Times Senior Reporter

Telecommunications companies told the Senate blue-ribbon committee on Tuesday that they can provide the last-mile broadband connectivity of the country and denied claims of the government that none of them was interested in the project.

Executives of Smart and Globe said at the resumption of hearing on the aborted $330-million project that the government need not enter into a contract with a Chinese firm for the broadband project because they already cover almost the entire country. They refuted the earlier statements of Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso 3rd of the Department of Transportation and Communications that the government was forced to pursue the broadband project with foreign partners because no local telecommunications company was interested in it.

During the hearing, the blue ribbon headed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, asked former socioeconomic planning Secretary Romulo Neri to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt for not attending the hearing. It also decided to refer to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs the alleged assassination plot against Jose “Joey” de Venecia 3rd after lawyer Raul Lambino corroborated it. De Venecia, son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., blew the whistle on alleged brokers for the broadband deal—among them President Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, and resigned Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.

Rodolfo Salalima, vice-president for operations of Globe, and Mon Isberto of Smart said their respective companies were not approached in any way about the broadband project. If they were invited to bid, they would have done so and would have been capable of providing the service, they added.

Isberto said Smart already has cell sites in all but a dozen of the 1,600 towns in the country, that it is offering wireless broad­band services in 43 percent of the country, and that it has wired broadband services in 116 cities and major municipalities outside of Metro Manila.

Salalima said they have 7,000 cell sites covering about 80 percent of the country.

Globe and Smart said they were asked to participate only after President Arroyo had already canceled the contract with ZTE Corp., the Chinese firm that won the broadband project.

Cayetano said he found the testimony of the telecommunications companies “very revealing.”

“Imagine, the government will be spending $329 million without even asking local telcos if they can do it,” he said.

Cayetano said the government has been arguing that the project is needed but it has never maintained that it could save on the project cost because it is available locally.

He formed a technical group that included the telecommunications companies to go over the technical aspects of the project and determine if there was overpricing. The work of the group is facilitated by the rejection of ZTE’s request that its documents on pricing be considered proprietary.

Sen. Manuel Roxas, who moved for the opening of the documents, said committee members may now share the documents with any technical people they might want to consult so that they could make an informed decision.

Meanwhile, the Senate inched closer to an expected confrontation with Malacañang after the blue ribbon required Neri to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt for failing to appear at the hearing.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita wrote a letter to Cayetano asking the committee to dispense with the testimony of Neri because he had already testified and “exhaustively” discussed the broad­band project on September 26. Ermita invoked executive privilege in explaining why Neri could not testify on his conversations with Mrs. Arroyo regarding the project.

Cayetano also noted that Neri had already made disclosures on his conversations with the President in media interviews so Ermita’s explanation does not wash. He directed the committee secretary to draft a letter asking Neri to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt for not appearing at the hearing.

“If the committee won’t accept his explanation, then the next step is to have a vote on holding him in contempt,” the blue-ribbon chairman said.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile asked for an immediate vote since that is where the committee appeared to be heading, but Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Cayetano said they have to accord Neri due process.

The blue ribbon also decided that the Senate should pursue the investigation of the alleged threat on the life of the de Venecias. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Sen. Rodolfo Biazon said the alleged plot could be an attempt to silence a vital witness in a Senate investigation.

Lawyer Raul Lambino, a legal adviser of the Speaker, corroborated the earlier testimony of Joey de Venecia that retired Gen. Jaime de los Santos had warned of an assassination plot against him and his father, allegedly hatched by Transportation Secretary Leandro Men­doza, Land Transportation Office Director Reynaldo Berroya and prisons Director Ricardo Dapat.

Cayetano said Berroya and Dapat previously confirmed their attendance but called Tuesday morning that they were sick. The young de Venecia also begged off from the hearing, saying he had a prior commitment that could not be rescheduled and that the secretariat might have made a mistake in saying that businessman Enrique Razon confirmed his attendance.

“We have another hearing tomorrow involving another Razon, Gen. Avelino Razon, and our staff might have mistaken him for Enrique Razon,” Cayetano explained.

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