Feeds

Myanmar gets a taste of Chocolate Factory as Google search lands

Play app store is also partially unblocked ahead of Eric Schmidt's visit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Myanmar’s gradual re-integration with the rest of the world has taken another step forward after Google partially unblocked its Play app store and switched on a .mm search engine for the region, ahead of a visit by Chairperson Eric Schmidt.

The executive chairman is set to round off a whistlestop tour of India with a visit to the reclusive Asian state this week, most likely later today.

In what is unlikely to be a coincidence, google.com.mm became available yesterday and the official Android app store, which had been blocked due to international sanctions, was partially available according to users in the country, although still not allowing downloads at the time of writing.

There are obvious commercial reasons for Schmidt visiting Myanmar. His vist to Axis of Evil state North Korea last month seems to have resulted in a relaxing of internet regulations for foreigners there.

Myanmar is a huge untapped market for ICT firms. In January it announced that two telecoms licenses up for grabs would be open to foreign providers, and analyst IDC predicted 15 per cent growth in IT spending last year with the market reaching $268.45m (£172.9m) by 2016.

Cisco is already jostling for a presence in the once-isolated nation, and Google would obviously like first mover advantage too. It’ll be interesting to see whether Chinese rival Baidu will make similar overtures in the near future.

Rights group Reporters Without Borders was finally taken off a blacklist after quarter of a century and allowed to visit Myanmar in December 2012 as part of the easing of media restrictions.

In a report on the country in the same month, the group remained cautiously optimistic of a loosening of internet regulations, claiming the following:

Public internet access points, which had already become numerous in recent years, no longer seem to be controlled by the authorities. Asked about this, internet café owners said they were not getting police visits and no longer needed to keep logs of the computers used by clients. Draconian regulations such as a ban on external flash drives are still officially in place but no longer enforced and more and more people are freely surfing the internet in public places.

The Chocolate Factory is remaining tight-lipped on its plans there, but will surely be rubbing its hands together at the thought of a potential 50 million-strong mobile user base to push its online services to.

Quartz is claiming from sources in the company that the web giant will also launch Analytics and other business services like online Docs “soon”.

However, to gain any traction in the country, it’ll need to wait for significant telecoms infrastructure to go in – at present internet penetration is thought to be as low as one per cent. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
Yes, Australia's government SHOULD store comms metadata
Not because it's a good idea but because it already operates the infrastructure and processes to do it well
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.