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9 June 2010

Asia: 1 Billion internet users expected

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THE NEXT big wave of Internet users will be from Asia - the region will contribute one billion hungry consumers of digital goods and services over the next five years - and Singapore stands to gain from this wave.

The Internet has historically been an elitist, Western-focused tool for able-bodied and literate users, said Media Development Authority of Singapore deputy chief executive Michael Yap.

Considering the hundreds of different languages, cultures, habits, and consumption patterns of this coming wave of Internet users, companies will have find adjust the way they do business to cater to these needs.

Mr Yap used the example of video games to illustrate the difference between a Western and Asian consumer. Western gamers are usually willing to pay to buy a game upfront, but will baulk at attempts to nickel and dime them for extras.

Asian gamers, however, prefer free-to-play online games, but have no problems paying out small amounts now and then to purchase additional perks.

And Singapore, standing at the crossroads of East and West, is a great place for companies to put together a team with the relevant cultural, technological and business skills to build products to cater to this diverse audience, said Mr Yap, in his keynote presentation to the 250 participants of the Computer Graphics International 2010 conference at the Nanyang Technological University.

It is the second time the prestigious four-day event, which first began in 1983 in Japan, is being held here. The event was organised by the NTU's newly set up Institute for Media Innovation, which conducts research into using a touch and gesture-based computer interfaces for disabled children and an image-based version of online encyclopedia Wikipedia virtual worlds.


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