July 24, 2008

Singapore SMBs to Invest US$1.5B on Internet Access and Telecom Services in 2008

Small and medium businesses (SMBs, or companies with up to 999 employees) in Singapore are on track to invest up to US$1.5 billion on Internet access and telecom services this year, up 3% over 2007. Spending on cell phones and long-distance telephony services will make up about 50% of the total, according to the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, Inc.

"We expect SMBs in Singapore to boost their spending on Internet access and telecom services in the years to come," says Vu-Thanh Nguyen, Singapore-based Research Analyst at AMI-Partners. "That's because of the growing number of mobile and telecommuting employees, the increasingly high penetration of notebooks among SMBs, the Singapore government's initiative to grow the wireless broadband market, and the growing popularity of Internet-enabled handheld devices."

About half of Singapore's small businesses (SBs, or companies with up to 99 employees) and 68% of medium businesses have staffs that are increasingly mobile and need to travel on the job.

"Mobile employees make up from 10% to 50% of their workforce depending on the vertical segment," says Vu-Thanh. "Consequently, there is an increasingly high penetration of notebooks among SMBs. Currently, there is one laptop for every three desktop PCs in a typical Singapore SMB. More PC-owning SMBs are migrating from desktops to notebook PCs, however."

The top three reasons for SMBs opting for notebook computers are to save office space, to take advantage of their built-in Wi-Fi capability in highly connected Singapore, and for ease of use, given that most employees are either telecommuting or on the move.

The Singapore government has also initiated an island-wide wireless broadband program called "[email protected]" This is program free of charge and is targeted towards people on the move, including tourists, business travelers, and enterprise users. This free service offers connectivity speeds of up to 512 kbps. Many SMBs are opting to purchase premium broadband services though to allow themselves higher connectivity speed and quality of service.

"One key catalyst is the growing popularity of Internet-enabled handheld devices," says Mr. Nguyen. "With the introduction of smart phones at cheaper prices, there will be a higher adoption of these devices by SMBs. With the wireless infrastructure in place, this will encourage the usage of more bandwidth-intensive applications like VoIP and video conferencing. This wireless infrastructure will help SMBs reduce their spending on long-distance telephony services. At the same time, service providers will increase revenues through connection charges and new Web-based services such as enterprise email and CRM systems."

Several vendors have been working to take advantage of this trend. In June, Nokia announced its collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and wireless providers to try an enhanced version of [email protected] in an effort to improve usability, security, and WiFi usage among handheld-device users. SingTel announced its winning bid to be a provider of IDA's SME Infocomm Package initiative. This initiative will provide SMEs broadband access, email, web hosting, push-mail, and other Web-based business solutions in a single package.

About the Study

AMI's 2007 Singapore Small Business Market Overview and Comprehensive Market Opportunity Assessment and 2007 Singapore Medium Business Market Overview and Comprehensive Market Opportunity Assessment studies highlight these and other major trends in the context of current/planned IT, Internet and communications usage and spending. Products and services covered include established and emerging hardware, software, applications, and business process solutions. Based on AMI's annual surveys of SMBs across Singapore, the study track a broad spectrum of issues pertaining to budgets, purchase behaviors, decision influencers, channel preferences, outsourcing, service, and support. Also covered are detailed firmographics and critically important technology attitudes and strategic planning priorities. This data points to key opportunities and messaging hot buttons for vendors and service providers seeking to match their offerings to SMB market requirements.

For more information about this study, AMI-Partners, or our global SMB research, call 212-944-5100, e-mail [email protected], or visit us at www.ami-partners.com.

About Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, Inc.

AMI-Partners specializes in IT, Internet, telecommunications and business services strategy, venture capital, and actionable market intelligence -- with a strong focus on global small and medium businesses (SMBs), and extending into large enterprises and home-based businesses. The AMI-Partners mission is to empower clients for success with the highest quality data, business strategy perspectives, and "go-to-market" solutions. Led by Andy Bose, the firm has built a world-class management team with deep experience cutting across IT, telecommunications, and business services sectors in established and emerging markets.

AMI-Partners has helped shape the go-to-market SMB strategies of more than 150 leading IT, Internet, telecommunications and business services companies. The firm is well known for its IT and Internet adoption-based segmentation of the SMB markets; its annual retainership services based on global SMB tracking surveys in more than 25 countries; and its proprietary database of SMBs and SMB channel partners in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The firm invests significantly in collecting survey-based information from several thousand SMBs annually, and is considered the premier source for global SMB trends and analysis.