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Glitzy numbers lure tech
VIPs to Indonesia

It has been a busy two months for the technology and gadget scene in Indonesia.

Like bees to a honey pot, CEOs of tech heavyweights have one after the other, alighted in Indonesia to check out the market buzz in the local tech and gadget scene, while gadget manufacturers staged big product launches in Jakarta.

The big names include Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and industry peer Thorsten Heins of Research In Motion (RIM), Bill Gates’ “right hand man” Craig Mundie, who is Microsoft’s chief of research and strategy, and finally Tom Kilroy, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager for sales marketing.

Meanwhile, Nokia chose Jakarta for the global launch of the Asha 308 and Asha 309 in September, while Samsung held the regional launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note II early in the following month.

The nonstop action toward the end of the year, observers say, is proof of the intensifying appeal the country exudes to these tech-related multinational companies.

Andy Zain, a tech observer, said that “right timing” had drawn these CEOs to Indonesia.

Indonesia’s economic growth stands in stark contrast to the bleak numbers shadowing the US and Europe, traditionally the big markets for tech companies. This contrast, he said, made Indonesia’s market numbers “stand out”.

After all, Indonesians have a thirst for tech and communication tools. The number of mobile phone subscription in a country of at least 240 million people has exceeded 200 million with one person often having two to three phone numbers.

Nanda Ivens, a digital marketing expert, added that Indonesia was a draw to tech companies not only demographic-wise but also because of the consumer behavior of the people.

“Exclusively economic reasons are behind any interest they have exhibited toward the country,” he said.

After all, the consumer confidence index (CCI) of Indonesia touched 111.7 in September — the highest level this year, a Bank Indonesia (BI) survey showed, indicating very high confidence indeed.

All scores above 100 denote consumer optimism while scores below 100 reflect pessimism. In comparison, the CCI of eurozone countries slid below 85 points in the same month, dragged down by the sinking scores of citizens in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Nanda further added that the visits were part of these companies’ public relations effort which signal their commitment to big markets, and business partners within those markets.

CEOs, such as Heins, have caught up with business partners, including operators, distributors and team members, while Mundie has shown interest in discussing how technology would propel Indonesia’s education sector.

Yet, as these companies rev up their public relations engine, the Indonesian government has yet to switch on its, Nanda said.

According to him, the government “does not see these visits as a valuable commodity” by using the visits as opportunities to meet these CEOs in front of local and foreign press and generate media buzz on Indonesia’s investment allure.

Ultimately, Indonesia should be more than just another stop during a world tour, but an investment destination and a place where these companies support the development of the local human resources.

“The government needs to give tangible support to the big gesture [the CEOs] made by coming here,” he said.

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