Friday, 20 March 2009

Success of Mobile Technologies in Oman

Technology and STING

Desktop computers first entered my life back in 1997-1998 when I was still a teenager. Within months, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) became an integral part of my life. I have been studying about and working in this field for more than 10 years now. This created opportunities for everybody in Oman. Not just businesses, but also normal computer users who started manipulating the ignorant media and public for fame and god knows what. In fact, this still happens.

Why Mobiles Spread Faster?

Desktop computers and internet connections entered the homes in Oman slowly, whereas mobile telephony started to spread like forest fire. This brings me to the topic of my post, I always wondered why is it that the mobile phones did so much better than computers in Oman and perhaps the region?

Omani ICT Stats

According to the latest data available, the internet penetration rate is about 2.7 per hundred inhabitants. And the vast majority of users, about 70%, connect using dial up! One must ask why is this? After all, literacy rate and economic conditions in Oman are very good. Unlike the internet and computer usage, mobile phones penetration rate is close to, if not above, 100%. I am sure at least a handful of your relatives and friends come to mind who carry like 3-5 mobile phones and can be contacted on more than one number.


Recently, while writing a whitepaper, I got the chance to investigate this phenomenon. I will share some of my findings here, without getting too scientific or going in too much details:

  1. Quantitative Factors
    • Costs: It is cheaper to buy and maintain mobile phones.
    • Infrastructure: Mobile network coverage is well above 90% whereas broadband internet is only available in limited areas.
    • Service Providers (Competition): Standard of mobile telephony services enhanced after the second operator entered the market in 2005.
  2. Qualitative Factors
    • Content: Arabic is the preferred language here relevant content is scarce.
    • Usability: Using a desktop/laptop is more difficult for the non technical people, i.e. no Microsoft Windows virus and blue screen problems with mobile phones.
    • Relevance: User specific functionalities are readily available in an user friendly way in mobile phones, i.e. make a call, send a message, take a picture, et cetera. Same is not true for desktop/laptop computers and internet users.
The Future

Of course, looking at how things are going in Oman and considering the technological advancements, specifically the convergence of services and devices, it seems that number of people online, i.e. using the internet, would rapidly increase in Oman in the near future.

For this to happen though, the government (TRA and ITA) would have to continue playing an active role along with the businesses in Oman; they must take advantage of technological advancements and provide creative solutions to the unique hurdles in that exist in Oman.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

New Mobile Service Providers in Oman

Last year about 6 businesses were awarded Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licenses by TRA Oman. We can debate about having so many mobile telephony service providers in Oman, a country with about 3 million people, but I think we just better wait and see how this goes.

There are rumors around already about a couple of these virtual operators having second thoughts, but again, they are just rumors.

Among these operators, FRiENDi Mobile and Renna Mobile (Majan Telecom) have already started marketing and are expected to start full operations anytime. On the contrary, Injaz Telecom and Mazoon Mobile are yet to make their presence felt.

Looking at their websites, it seems Mazoon will target young Omanis. This is not a bad idea, specially since about 50% of Omanis are students. FRiENDi Mobile seems to target the labor class and expats in Oman. This is clear from their multilingual website, but the question is, how many of these expats would be interested in a website available in their local language. In fact, how many of them know what a website is and know how to access it? Can't say much about Injaz or Renna, but I'm sure they either have something up their sleeves, or working towards it! Let's wait and see.

New businesses are always good, but I really hope a good number of jobs are created for Omanis, otherwise its business as usual. Among these new operators, I reckon FRiENDi and Mazoon (whenever it starts) would do good.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

John Stewart Roasts CNBC

They say don't believe everything you read, in today's world, don't believe anything you read, hear or watch. At least, not before questioning and analyzing it to the best of your ability. We are lazy beings, we tend to just simply believe information we’re exposed to. It might be difficult, but observing everything analytically expands our knowledge and understanding, and isn’t that worthwhile?

Had business people and investors in America, around the world for that matter, not blindly followed rumors and news channels, I am sure we would have been in a much better situation economically.

The economical disaster in US has spread across the world, having an economical butterfly effect!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

First Blog Post

I've tried this before, but this time it seems I am here to stay. I found out what can I blog about, and that is the Truth. I believe in questioning everything until its proved to be the truth.

The question is, can you handle the truth?