Smart targets 'web snackers'

By Lenie Lectura, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jul 18 2012 07:09 AM | Updated as of Jul 18 2012 06:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Smart Communications Inc. is banking on “web snacking” to fuel mobile data usage.

Web snacking is when mobile phone subscribers use mobile handsets to access the Internet from time to time.

“People check their Facebook or Twitter accounts. They look up what movies are showing in which theater and what the traffic is like on Edsa. This is accesing the Internet in small bites,” said Emmanuel Lorenzana, head of Smart’s wireless consumer division.

He pointed out that rising mobile data usage will power continued growth for Smart even as the cellular penetration rate approaches 100 percent in the second half of 2012. But this surge will come in the form of many “tiny bites of the Internet.”

In the first quarter of this year, mobile Internet usage of Smart subscribers surged by 71 percent compared with the yearago level. As of end-March, Smart had 50.5 million subscribers on its mobile network. The broadband subscriber base stood at 1.6 million during the same period.

The boost has come from the increase in sales of smartphones such as the Apple iPhone and those from Samsung and Nokia.

“The high-end handsets tend to get the most visibility, but the huge growth of mid- to low-end devices is just as important, if not more so, to our objective of putting the power of mobile Internet in the hands of more and more Filipinos,” said Lorenzana.

A big chunk of mobile Internet usage consists of access to web content “[like] small snacks,” he explained.

Smart has helped mobile phone users to “web snack” through its web-based platform called SmartNet.

The platform debuted as the mobile web service platform behind the Netphone, which was launched in September 2011. It enables users to chat with other SmartNet users, search and add contacts from the cloud, check on their Facebook and Twitter feeds, post updates and read articles.

“Since then, the number of SmartNet users had risen to about 320,000 as of end-June. The figure is rising by over 20,000 weekly, partly because SmartNet has been made more easily available as an Android application that can be downloaded from Google Play,” said Lorenzana.

“SmartNet is quietly revolutionizing how Filipinos can use the Internet—affordably, conveniently, safely,” he added. To support the proliferation of smartphones and data-capable feature phones, Smart has been aggressively marketing its various mobile internet service packages, particularly its Always Online services.

“Always online is gaining traction because it is affordable and fits the web-snacking mobile lifestyle of people,” Lorenzana said.