Sunday, July 19, 2009

Understanding the Internet Cafe Industry in the Philippines - Part I

By: Gener Morada

I have already written a number of articles about the internet cafe industry in the Philippines.  Most of it could be found in my personal blog and through the numerous postings in in which I am a regular contributor in the forum.  This is in line with the advocacy that I share with Mr. Ed Zafra, Lead Convenor of I-Café Pilipinas, whose blog “Owning a Cafe”  aims in providing information in order to improve the conditions of the internet cafe industry in the Philippines.  This article is in response to the various postings in in order to provide a greater picture to the internet cafe owners about the industry that they belong to.

I am not saying that I am a successful internet café owner.  I don’t have so many computer units nor so many branches in fact that I have the least number of computers in our internet café association. The internet café business is a game of numbers. The more computers that you have the better chances that you would earn a decent living but things are changing that has put a lot of doubts in the viability of the internet café business.

Basically when you talk about an internet café owner, you can classify them into different kinds:
  • A gamer – an internet café owner is usually a gamer who has a long experience in playing in an internet café and therefore he has seen that it is really a viable business. Usually the primary motivation of a gamer in setting up an internet café would be to allow him to play his game for free and at the same time earn some money.
  • Your neighborly neighbor – these are the internet café owners who went into the business because they saw it was viable (I belong to this category).  Sometimes they have the money to invest but do not possess the technical knowledge in running an internet café.  They noticed that the internet café in their community has a lot of customers and therefore they want some piece of the action.
  • Geeks – this is just the minority.  They possess the knowledge that they need in the technical aspect of running the computer but sometimes lack the necessary business skills in running an internet café
  • Big Boys – these big corporations and their subsidiaries wanting to take a piece of the action in the internet café business. They usually locate their operations in malls but they do franchise in other locations.  They have a vast resource to invest that is why most of them engage the high end market.
  • Foreigners – these are foreigners who were able to settle here in the Philippines who use dummies to run and manage an internet café business. They are competing with the small scale internet café owners in the communities sometimes setting up an internet café with numerous computer units.
To be continued . . .

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