Mon, 29 Nov 2010

Jakarta. Global Internet giant Yahoo is gearing up to increase its presence in Indonesia after recently acquiring local location-based service provider Koprol and launching a campaign to attract first-time Internet users.

Pontus Sonnerstedst, country manager for Yahoo Indonesia, said that while the country had one of the fastest-growing Internet markets in Southeast Asia, it also had the lowest percentage of active users.

These two factors combined, however, offer tremendous growth prospects for Yahoo in Indonesia, he said.

While Yahoo is acknowledged as the No. 1 email service provider in Indonesia, Sonnerstedst declined to offer specific numbers.

According to Yahoo’s latest financial report, the company’s growth in the Asia-Pacific region was 26 percent year-on-year as of the end of the third quarter. That was higher than in the Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), which both showed slight declines.

One of the biggest contributors to its growth in Indonesia is Jakarta-based Koprol, Sonnerstedst said. Purchased by Yahoo in May, the location-based service geared to cellphone users has already garnered a million users around the world. The mobile social networking service gives users data on where their friends are and nearby places of interest to them, similar to much-hyped programs such as Foursquare.

“It is a mix of everything that comes together at the right time, from the entrepreneurs who build the products, the technology that has becoming widely available, to consumers adjusting their behaviors to new opportunities of what they can do online,” Sonnerstedst said.

Indonesia, he said, is the place to be in Southeast Asia for Internet growth. ComScore, a digital research company, estimates there are 33 million Internet users in the country, which is still less than 15 percent of the total population, estimated at 245 million people.

“That means 212 million, or more than 85 percent of the people in Indonesia, still have yet to go online,” Sonnerstedst said.

Although Indonesia has the fastest Internet usage growth rate in Southeast Asia (1,400 percent over the last 10 years, according to Internet World Stats), it also has the lowest penetration rate at 13 percent, lagging behind other countries in the region such as Vietnam (28 percent) and Singapore (75 percent).

Angling to entice more Indonesians to log on to the Internet and steer some of those potential new users to its own online services, Yahoo Indonesia began the “New to Net” campaign in August.

While the first phase of the campaign, launched on Aug. 10, focused on Koprol and social networking, Sonnerstedst said the second phase would look to target an even larger segment of the public by launching an Indonesian version of Yahoo’s entertainment and gossip news portal OMG!

“The Indonesian market is very social and very mobile,” he said, adding that not many countries had the size and growth potential of Indonesia.

With the fourth-largest population in the world, local technology companies have to learn to design software programs and applications that will appeal to the largest percentage of Internet users possible, he added.