Malaysian streaming media solutions provider Asiaonair Digital Broadcast Network is planning a regional expansion drive as early as end-2001, after reaping profits just 15 months into the game. Its target: to expand into Singapore, Indonesia, China, Korea and Australia by 2002.
“We expect streaming media to grow into a huge business over the next five years and dominate the current media businesses. Digital convergence is inevitable and we will be conducting most of our communications, information search, entertainment and commercial transactions on broadband networks,” said founder and chief executive officer David Yong.
The company had spent the past year building its brand and promoting its localized services (its streaming solutions are developed by local talent). Asiaonair’s streaming content consists of more than 1,500 original video clips in English and Mandarin, and it boasts a stable of 60 international broadband content partners.
According to Yong, the company’s revenue from providing services, solutions and content redistribution in Malaysia has grown threefold from RM50,000 (US$13,200) a month in January this year to a current figure of approximately RM150,000 (US$39,500) a month.
He acknowledges that the local environment is not conducive enough to help sufficiently grow Asiaonair’s business. A lack of venture capitalists and technology exchange to help fast-growing IT companies, as well as the slow development of broadband infrastructure in the country, are obstacles that Asiaonair must overcome as a pioneer in the streaming media industry, he said.
Yet another challenge is the relatively slower acceptance of new technologies and growth of the IT sector in Malaysia, as compared to those in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, China, Japan and Australia, Yong added.
To date, Asiaonair has spent RM3.2 million (US$842,100) to build its business in Malaysia and finance its expansion into China, Singapore and Indonesia beginning end-2001.
It is currently on the lookout for a strategic partner to expand into Southeast Asia to gain market share in broadband applications as broadband access in the region becomes more affordable and consumer demand becomes more sophisticated.
On Asiaonair’s regional expansion drive, Yong is confident that the company’s client list and its competitive pricing will help mitigate the threat of competition in China and Singapore.
He believes that companies in China are ready to accept streaming media as a new way of advertising, as they are aware of the convergence of rich, digital and streaming media types.
As for the economic downturn experienced by companies in Singapore, and the current climate of political uncertainty in Indonesia, Yong is of the opinion that businesses will still need to market their products or services; they will continue to allocate funds for marketing or streamline business processes to reduce cost and enhance efficiency.
Asiaonair expects to venture into Australia and Korea – markets that have high Internet usage – by 2002, armed with a stronger range of products, services and content offerings.