There are 854 million mobile subscriptions across the region – more phones than people. So does this mean that all businesses should have a mobile app?

Not necessarily. Despite the everyday use of a phone, a mobile app is only suitable for a handful of verticals, like fashion and electronics because of their ‘discovery potential’ and purchase frequency.

Source: Deloitte

A mobile app is also used for proximity marketing or to send out push notifications. For example, a business could target users with ‘location finder’ enabled on their phone, send a message to offer a discount at their nearest offline location, and increase foot traffic offline.

If a business can benefit from a mobile app, below are some pointers to know before building.

Native vs. Hybrid. What’s the main difference?

Native apps are built separately for either iOS or Android devices.

Hybrid apps are built on one framework that can be used for both iOS or Android devices.

Choosing one or the other is vital to a business’s performance depending on its goals. eIQ talks to Mandy Arbilo, Regional Project Manager at aCommerce, Southeast Asia’s leading ecommerce service provider, to find out the key features and differences between native and hybrid apps.

Native Apps

Time to build: 3-4 months per platform (iOS or Android)

Cost: $30,000-35,000 per app

Good if you need: Integration with third party applications such as Google Maps, including payment platforms such as Samsung pay, Android pay or Apple pay. Also recommended if the business requires functions such as store finder or a directory, as they are more accurate when integrated into a native app.

To note: Some brands are building an iOS app first to target the more affluent Apple device users that typically spend 2.5x more on in-app purchases than Android users. But if the aim to reach a wider demographic, building an Android app will be more effective in Southeast Asia.

Source: Deloitte

Native App Advantages

  • Faster, more responsive and reliable user experience than Hybrid
  • Allows push notifications to alert users when attention is needed in the app, this experience cannot be replicated in a Hybrid app.
  • Better integration to leverage device functionality i.e. camera, microphone and swipe functions
  • Native apps work with the mobile device’s built in features, so they are easier to work with and perform better on the device.

Native App Disadvantages

  • Dedicated developer to manage a codebase for each platform because iOS apps will not run on Android and vice versa
  • More expensive to build as brands would have to build two. Costs for maintenance can also be high.
  • Have to submit their app into the App store/Google Play store

Examples of Native apps:

  • Pokemon Go – Mobile game
  • Season – Thailand e-marketplace (mobile only)
  • Pomelo – Fashion brand

Hybrid Apps

Time to build: 3 months

Cost: $30,000 per app

Good if you need: Relatively affordable price to start your business and deploy an app into the hands of more customers as soon as possible. A hybrid is an MVP; a minimum value product and is a good cost-effective solution for brands that would like to target both Android and iOS users but are short on resources.

To note: The best way to explain a hybrid app is that it’s a fusion of a native app and a web app.

Users install a hybrid app like they would with a native, but it is actually a browser bundled inside the app. A hybrid app allows you to add new functionalities to both versions of your app through one codebase.

The process is similar to building a simple, responsive website.

The speed of your hybrid will depend on the user’s internet browser speed whereas native apps are less dependent on internet connection to work.

Hybrid Advantages

  • Development for hybrid apps are often less expensive than native app development
  • Hybrid apps are easier to scale onto another platform such as a Windows Mobile
  • Saves time and money because the one base requires less maintenance but the speed of the app will depend on the user’s internet browser speed

Hybrid Disadvantages

  • Performance is the hybrid app’s biggest setback because hybrid apps load in a browser like function called webview and are therefore only as good as the webview.

The webview is responsible for displaying the UI and running javascript. Google and Apple did not give webview the same engines used by their mobile browsers, Chrome and Safari, and therefore hybrids have not reached the level of a Native app’s performance.

  • The hybrid app needs to be tested on each platform to ensure it is properly responding as it has less access to the device’s functionalities
  • The UX of the app will suffer because the app’s components can not be customized to suit the behaviors of Apple or Android users exclusively.

“By building a hybrid app, you won’t be able to please both camps. Try too hard to customize the app based on the platform and it may end up costing the same as two native apps,” says Mandy.

Examples of Hybrid Apps

However, the following examples show that a hybrid app can be high functioning too (thanks HTML5).

  • Evernote
  • Amazon App Store
  • Uber
  • Instagram

Uber app

The final verdict?

“If you were to build an ecommerce app, or deploy a functionable platform with a decent sized budget, it’s advisable to go with a native application because of its high performance, integration with third party applications such as Google Maps app, and offline capabilities” says Mandy.

For those with smaller budgets, build a hybrid app first to test traction and if it shows potential for scale, dedicate resources into a native app. Facebook did it.

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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon will now let you try clothes at home

For many people, buying clothing online is not worth the hassle of getting a pair of pants or a shirt that does not fit.

The company revealed a new program called Prime Wardrobe that allows people to order clothing — from three to 15 items at a time — without actually buying it.

Amazon will charge them only for the items they keep. Customers can return the items they don’t want in a resealable box with the preprinted shipping label that the order came in.

The service will be an option only for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s membership service.

By the end of this year, analysts expect that Amazon will become the largest apparel retailer in the United States, at a time when many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are closing stores or filing for bankruptcy.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Alibaba execs: ‘Don’t mistake us for Amazon’

China holds massive opportunity for U.S. sellers, Alibaba executives told 3,000 small-business players from 48 states at a conference it hosted in Detroit this week.

Alibaba’s new customers are more likely to hail from Asia and emerging markets rather than from the U.S. or Europe.

Earlier this month, Alibaba executives told investors that it’s targeting revenue growth between 45% and 49% for the current fiscal year. In the last fiscal year, Alibaba generated free-cash flow of $10 billion, which Alibaba Group CFO Maggie Wu said would be plowed back into the company to gain B2C market share.

In Detroit, the Chinese ecommerce giant took that message to the smaller businesses that it sees as having potential for growth, even in the relatively small terrain of the U.S.

The Chinese company seems also to be creating an ecommerce infrastructure that is more social and interactive beyond search. The company has essentially grown into an economy unto itself, fueled by Chinese consumers’ comfort with interacting with retailers on mobile.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Uber’s lesson: Silicon Valley’s start-up machine needs fixing

Travis Kalanick’s spectacular rise and fall at Uber contains many lessons for the technology industry. But one lesson should rise above the others: This was not just Mr. Kalanick’s failure — it was far bigger.

What happened at Uber is an indictment of everyone who enabled Mr. Kalanick’s worst tendencies and practices, which is just about everyone in a position of power at the ride-hailing company and its funders.

It adopted a more aggressive posture in dealing with forces outside the company — competitors, regulators, drivers and everyone else. By managing drivers as contractors rather than actual employees, it accelerated a new way of thinking about labor.

Staying private created a hothouse that reinforced its worst side, and allowed it to delay building a sustainable culture with a focus on long-term interests.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Razer takes minority stake in Malaysian fintech startup

Razer has announced a strategic investment in Malaysian fintech startup MOL AccessPortal. MOL become the master distributor of zGold, Razer’s virtual currency.

The US-Singaporean company says its wholly owned subsidiary ZV-Midas purchased a 19.9 percent stake in MOL.

MOL’s MOLPoints virtual currency – already the most widely distributed in Southeast Asia, according to the company – will be renamed zGold-MOLPoints in order to leverage off the Razer brand.

In addition to their distribution through Razer’s online network, zGold-MOLPoints will also be available to purchase from over one million online and physical stores across 17 countries, including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

zGold is part of Razer’s zVault digital wallet platform. Gamers can purchase zGold to top up their ewallet using their credit card, PayPal account, and other payments options.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Fintech startup Akulaku reportedly raises $5-10M from DCM Ventures

Akulaku is an ecommerce platform that allows users to shop by using installment, without having the need to own a credit card.

Operating in five countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, it claimed to be the first online mall in the region that allows users to buy “every items” on installment.

The startup targets ecommerce platform users, and it help them get short term financing for their purchases. It also allows users to apply for instant credit before paying for the goods over time.

 Read the rest of the story here.


3. Community Chatter: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns

Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick is resigning from the ride-sharing company he helped found in 2009 following a “shareholder revolt” led by some of Uber’s most prominent investors.

In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.

The move caps months of questions over the leadership of Uber, which has become a prime example of Silicon Valley start-up culture gone awry. The company has been exposed this year as having a workplace culture that included sexual harassment and discrimination, and it has pushed the envelope in dealing with law enforcement and even partners.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon launches Prime Reload, offering 2% back on purchases funded through debit cards

Amazon today is launching a new perk for Prime members that will give them cash back on purchases – even if they’re not paying for items using an Amazon cashback credit card.

Through a new rewards program called Amazon Prime Reload, Prime members can receive 2 percent back on purchases when they first load funds into their Amazon Balance using a debit card attached to their bank’s checking account.

Amazon Prime Reload is meant to encourage more people to sign up for Prime, the $99 per year membership program that includes free, 2-day shipping on millions of products, plus same-day shipping in select markets.

Amazon Prime Reload has another advantage for the retailer, as well – it may encourage people to load large lump sums into their Amazon Balance, in order to ensure they never accidentally pay for an item through their debit or credit card directly, therefore missing out on the cash back option.

Is this an indication that Amazon is working towards becoming a bank and payments platform? We think so.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Wall Street Is betting against Tesla and Alibaba like never before

The two day tech stock sell-off has come to a stop, with major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix all rebounding slightly in trading Tuesday.

While that’s good news for investors who held onto their shares, it’s less so for short sellers, who reap winnings by betting on a stock’s fall. Tech companies Alibaba, Tesla, and Apple are now the three most shorted stocks in the world, according to S3 Partners head of research Ihor Dusaniwsky.

with Alibaba and Tesla in particular, Wall Street’s bets against those stocks have never been higher, Dusaniwsky says.

 It remains to be seen if tech companies can meet investors’ lofty expectations. Mizuho analysts downgraded shares of Apple to “hold” Monday, while Morgan Stanley recently did the same for shares of Tesla.
Read the rest of the story here.


3. Bid to tax ecommerce on fast track to reality in Thailand

A draft bill on taxing ecommerce operators and social media networks will go before the cabinet this month, a step to ensure that the law will be enforced under the current government.

The draft bill will authorise the Revenue Department to tax online transactions; advertising fees on social media such as Facebook, Google and Line; and activity by other operators such as ride-sharing service Uber.

Under the draft bill, money changing hands from online purchases for goods and services, advertising on social networking and Uber, and transfers by senders or recipients in Thailand will see the 5% withholding tax imposed.

Read the rest of the story here.


Here’s what you should know today.

1. Singapore’s Shopmatic raises $5.7m to expand to Indonesia, the Philippines

Shopmatic is an ecommerce enabler for small businesses as well as individual entrepreneurs. Apart from building and managing their own stores, sellers can use it to get on to multiple ecommerce marketplaces, put ‘buy’ buttons on their social media pages, and so on.

Today Shopmatic announced pre-series A funding of US$5.7 million led by Singapore-based VC firm ACP and Spring, which is an agency of Singapore’s ministry of trade and industry.

Shopmatic will, similarly, partner with local payment gateways in Indonesia and other markets. It has also focused on the needs of mobile-first markets like India and Indonesia.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Google and Indonesia reach agreement in tax dispute

Indonesia’s government reached a settlement with Alphabet Inc.’s Google over a long-running tax dispute, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

Indonesia has been more strictly enforcing tax payments since Minister Sri Mulyani took office last year. Other technology giants like Facebook and Twitter with large user bases in Indonesia could be targeted next.

Part of the problem is the complexity of Google’s corporate structure, which makes it difficult to determine where revenues are generated. The firm is facing similar issues elsewhere. It settled for $185 million in its tax dispute with the UK last year.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Community Chatter: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence 

The announcement was made via a letter sent to employees Tuesday afternoon, in which Kalanick vowed to return to the company as the “2.0” version of himself. The letter demonstrates three key leadership strengths: a desire to improve, humility and the willingness to openly discuss grief in the workplace.

“For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team,” he writes. “But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Financial comparison site Moneysmart raises $10m series B to grow into new markets

Singapore-based financial products and services comparison site Moneysmart has raised US$10 million for its series B round.

The round is led by Japanese web group Kakaku, which operates a number of consumer websites in sectors like shopping, travel, lifestyle, and real estate.

Moneysmart helps users compare 17 different personal finance products including credit cards, insurance, and loans. Site visitors can also read about various financial topics on the accompanying blog, maintained by full-time staff.

The startup competes with fellow Singaporean company GoBear, which also offers insurance, credit card, and loan comparison, and is present in six markets in Southeast Asia. Kakaku, a prominent Japanese online brand, sees Moneysmart as an opportunity to tap into consumer markets in Southeast Asia. “Our missions are very similar – help with people’s decision-making,” says Genta Sugihara, senior executive officer for Kakaku’s corporate development division.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. For retailers, Amazon is a true frenemy

“They buy from us, but they want to sell advertising to us as well,” said one brand marketer. “When you talk to them, you don’t know what their interest is.”

Amazon could be poised, according to Forrester analyst Collin Colburn, who published research on this in January, to take over search — a market Google almost wholly controls.

As consumer behavior shifts to be more specific, people will start searching on Amazon for specific needs. Amazon has created product display ads and other types of search products already.

At the same time, if brands want to be Amazon for the purpose of using only its marketing (which buyers and brands both say is good), then they also have to be on its marketplace. “Amazon is two-way relationship,” said one marketer.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Why Bike-Sharing (Ofo, MoBike) Is Nothing Like Didi and Uber (i.e., Ride-Sharing)

Basically, bike-sharing is nothing like Didi, Grab, Ola, Uber, AirBnb and the others. Its economics are far more like an on-demand rental business or a vending machine business (at this point. It could evolve).

But much of the current excitement seems to be because people think this business is like Didi. It’s just not. It’s a different thing.

Bike sharing is basically a traditional, vertically integrated b2c rental service. It is a traditional merchant business. Being bigger helps somewhat but it is still fairly easy for a new entrant to enter. All you would need is about 30,000 bicycles. That would cost about $2.5M. So this is a cheap and fairly easy business to enter, which will probably limit long-term profitability.

However, in the short-term companies like Ofo and Mobike should do really well. They are offering an innovative new service and are first-movers in a wide-open and massive market.

Read the rest of the story here.

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