Earlier this week, Blouin News unpacked some of the reasons why Southeast Asia is opening its doors to the mobile payment industry, but that tech sector is just one among many that certain countries in the region are eyeing in order to boost their tech prowess. Communications technology as a whole is a focus as web access and mobile adoption increases. Indonesia, in particular, is targeting increased internet penetration and startup growth. And the world is taking notice.
Google announced last week that its internet-delivering balloon project Project Loon will launch from Indonesia in 2016. The initiative has been in the works for a few years, with the first around-the-world trip accomplished by one of the balloons in April 2014. Google announced last week that it is teaming up with Indonesia’s three largest wireless carriers in 2016 to test its high-altitude, wind-propelled balloons. Project Loon will target covering large sections of the country with web access, and more web access is needed for the burgeoning startup culture that Indonesia fosters.
Dipendra Jain, CEO of LiteLabs, a mobile app development company with offices in Jakarta and Bangalore, wrote on Wednesday in Tech in Asia about the reasons why the Indonesian startup industry is one to watch. He says that the Indonesian population is tech-friendly, welcoming of new technologies and quickly adopts apps and services. That willingness to embrace new business is coupled with the vast opportunity for investment, lack of current competition, and ease of hiring talent. In short, multiple factors have come together to make the Indonesian tech market ideal for new business. Chinese tech companies have already been eyeing Indonesia’s tech scene. Spotify — a U.S.-based music streaming service — recently announced its intention to expand into the country as part of its build-out in Asia-Pacific.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo no doubt emphasized these elements when he met with tech giants during his first trip to the U.S. last week. Reports earlier in October noted that one of Widodo’s goals was to seek investment for sustainable mining and greater internet access. (Indonesia is a hub for factories for products like Apple iPhones, and is the world’s largest tin exporter.)
Internet World Stats has Indonesia sitting at 28.5% internet penetration as of December 2014. Of course, it’s been a year, so that figure has likely increased. (Jain writes that the number of internet users is projected to reach 125 million in 2015.) Whether or not Google’s Project Loon will carry that number further into 2016 remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that the interest in making Indonesia a beacon of technological advancement in Southeast Asia is building domestically and abroad.