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January 15, 2013

HTC Wants Myanmar

Taiwan-based smartphone and tablet manufacturer wants the Myanmar market, and its CEO, Peter Chou, has found a way for citizens of his birth country to join (most) of the planet as routine smartphone users.

While there are more complex political and economic reasons behind Myanmar being one of the world’s last untapped mobile markets, one of the largest reasons comes down to the Myanmarese language.

Until recently, mobile users in the country, formerly known as Burma, had to download additional fonts onto their phones and tablets to be able to communicate in their own language. This process reportedly took months to complete, voided the phone’s warranty, and frustrated the marketplace to the point that mobile innovations were slow to be embraced.

HTC recognized this and quickly developed exactly what the country needed most: a smartphone that can be used directly out of the box, with local language settings already installed.

According to a report in Reuters, HTC “teamed up with a local distributor and a software developer to customize Google's Android operating system so its devices display local fonts and sport a dedicated and […]  intuitive, Myanmar language onscreen keyboard.”

Despite this, there are still some setbacks. HTC says that while text messaging and some default scripting will be in the local languages, text found in browsers and apps that are downloaded after purchase will be unreadable.

This presents a massive challenge to the country, which has 3 percent of its population using mobile technologies – a stark comparison to its neighboring Bangladesh, which holds 56 percent. HTC has stepped up to the plate, however, and is seeking to gain traction in the country by developing innovations that will help ignite a sizable mobile market in Myanmar.

While rumors spread that HTC did this because Myanmar was the birthplace of its CEO, the company denied the claims, stating it was more interested in getting footing in a country before competitors like Samsung.

Edited by Braden Becker

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