Strategic Road Map For A Better Internet Café Industry


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A document prepared by I-Cafe Pilipinas as its guidelines in attaining its goals towards a better Internet cafe industry in the Philippines.

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Strategic Road Map For A Better Internet Café Industry

  1. 1. Strategic Road Map for a Better Internet Café Industry 2010 – 2012 I-Café Pilipinas Page | 1
  2. 2. Background Internet Café Industry in the Philippines An internet café or cybercafé is a place where one can use a computer with Internet access, most for a fee, usually per hour or minute; sometimes one can have unmetered access with a pass for a day or month, etc. It may serve as a regular café as well, with food and drinks being served. History The concept and name, Cybercafé, was invented at the beginning of 1994 by Ivan Pope. Commissioned to develop an Internet event for an arts weekend at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Pope wrote a proposal outlining the concept of a café with Internet access from the tables. The event was run over the weekend of 12-13 March 1994 during the 'Towards the Aesthetics of the Future' event. In June 1994, The Binary Cafe, Canada's first Internet café, opened in Toronto, Ontario. Here in the Philippines, the first internet cafes was established in the late 1990’s as gaming centers whose computers were connected by a local area network (LAN) in which offline games such as counter strike were usually played. It later evolved as internet cafes with the introduction of internet access through a dial up connection. Greater advancement and improvements to the industry was achieved with the introduction of a faster internet connection service commonly known as DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). More services were added such as online gaming, video streaming and a much faster internet browsing. In a report that was prepared by Yahoo and Nielsen, it states that even if the Philippines has a low computer penetration rate of 14 percent, it still has a strong internet presence since 70 percent of internet related access in big cities and municipalities around the country is primarily done through the internet cafes. A recent survey that was conducted by a gaming Page | 2
  3. 3. company stated that there are about 11,000 licensed internet cafes that could be found in the country but the number could increase if we take into consideration the vast amount of unlicensed internet cafes operating in private homes and communities. Role of the Internet Café to the Community The internet café owner has to realize the important role to which his industry plays in the community. We are the front liners in the rapidly changing world of information communication technology. We serve as the bridge between the community that could not afford to have their own computer systems and DSL connection at home to the rapidly changing world of the internet. We provide a service and have the technology to be able to change the social and economic conditions in the municipalities and cities in which we operate. Services Offered by Internet Cafes Internet cafes is a service oriented business organization that offers a variety of services that is related to information communication technology. Examples of services are: 1. Computer Rental – the bread and butter of any internet café. Computers are usually rented out to customers by the hour or depending upon the needs of the customers for the following activities:  Internet Browsing – searching the internet for information through the use of a web browser  Online gaming - Online games are played over some form of computer network, now typically on the Internet. One advantage of online games is the ability to connect to multiplayer games, although single-player online games are quite common as well.  Offline gaming- these are stand alone games that does not require the use of an internet connection to be played.  Word processing or desktop publishing Page | 3
  4. 4. 2. The most common service offered is typing or encoding. This usually appeals to customers who are too lazy to type, or who have little no access to a computer. This service also appeals to busy people who don’t have time to type and edit their material. These customers would simply leave their work to be typed and pick it up after it is completed. 3. Saving and transferring digital files in compact disk through the use of a cd burner. 4. Computer Repair Services – most internet café owners are computer technicians who has the capacity to fix the hardware and software malfunctions. 5. An internet café can also provide specialized or sophisticated software to be available for use by its customers. These software may be kind that the hard to find, or expensive, or utilizes a large amount of memory. 6. Another service that an internet café can offer is photo editing. The client might have a picture that can be scanned or digitally edited, fixed up, or restored. While photo editing can be done at home, it takes time to do the more difficult or complicated jobs, and people would rather pay somebody to do the job properly rather that bungle it themselves. 7. Video editing is also another service that can be offered by the internet café, in much the same way as photo editing. 8. Internet cafés can also offer simple programming solutions. They can offer programs for the home offices or small business, like basic databases or inventory software. 9. The internet café may also offer workshops or lessons. These lessons may range from simple familiarization with the computer to more difficult subjects. One-on-one tutorials by the café staff may also be provided to clients who require the service. 10. Some internet cafés have amenities that make them more like meeting places or boardrooms, where they offer videoconferencing, group discussion tables, and other facilities for meetings and group work. Page | 4
  5. 5. Kinds of Internet Cafes 1. Internet Only Cafes – these are internet cafes that cater exclusively to internet users only. No one line and off line games are installed. 2. Pure Gaming Internet Cafes – These are internet cafes that exclusively cater to both on line and off line gamers. Their internet browsers are deliberately disabled to prevent game lag. 3. Combined Internet Cafes – these internet cafes cater to both internet users and gamers. 4. Internet Kiosks – is a computer terminal that provides information access via electronic methods. Interactive kiosks sometimes resemble telephone booths, but can also be used while sitting on a bench or chair. Interactive kiosks are typically placed in high foot traffic settings such as hotel lobbies or airports. Basic Characteristics of the Internet Café Industry 1. It is a capital extensive type of industry – people with very limited amount of capital at start up should not consider engaging themselves in this type of activities. Investments have to be made for the physical facilities, Computer hardware and software, peripherals, electrical and network setup. A certain amount of capital funds should be set aside to subsidize the first few months of operations as you are building your customer base. These would include payment for salaries of personnel, telephone, DSL charges, rent and electricity bills. 2. It is a highly technical type of industry – most of the internet café owners engage themselves in the internet café business without the sufficient technical skills that they need in order to maintain their computer units. Thus they rely much on the services of computer technicians once they encounter some problems with their units. The services of these technicians are often time very expensive. Internet Page | 5
  6. 6. café owners must have a sufficient knowledge on maintaining their computer units in order to minimize these types of cost. 3. It has a rapid rate of obsolescence - Moore’s law, proposed by Intel founder Gordon Moore in 1965, states that at a price point the processing speed of computer chips double every 18 months. Moore’s law only tells us that any computer units that are bought today will be obsolete within two years. It would be replaced by computer units much more powerful and efficient at a lesser price than what it is today. This is certainly true in the online gaming requirements that keeps on increasing each year thus internet café owners have no other choice but to upgrade their systems so often just to keep up with the requirements. 4. It has no central government body to control it – unlike other industries in which a certain government agency is assigned to regulate it, internet café operations is still considered to be a backyard industry thus no central government body is setting the standards and regulations in which to control the players in the industry. Regulating the industry is often left to the local government that provides ordinances and regulations that are sometime detrimental to the development of the internet café industry. 5. It has a high level of competition – it seems that a lot of people would like to engage themselves in this business. I don’t really blame them for in this industry your limitations would only be your own. The potential in offering services through the use of the internet is unlimited all you have to do is to find the right information that is available in the internet. This provides a situation in which there are too many players catering to a specific market thus cut throat pricing is a regular feature of this industry. Page | 6
  7. 7. I-Café Pilipinas I-Café Pilipinas is a national network of internet café owners, operators and associations in the Philippines. It strives to become their voice on a national level to represent their interest on issues pertaining to efficient operation of their business. It hopes to represent the ideals, aspirations and dreams of each internet café owner, operator and association as they take to the task in contributing to the development of their communities by providing affordable internet access and superior service. I-Café Pilipinas is a consultative assembly of its members. It hopes to provide them a venue in which discussions could be held on issues affecting the efficient and profitable operation of their business. It hopes to incorporate training programs, linkages with allied business and proper representation on a national level. It would never represent nor will ever strive to be a regulating body that would imposes regulations and imposes fines on its members. I-Café Pilipinas believes that collaboration is the key in creating the dynamics to institute changes in the internet café industry. It does not and will not strive to supersede or to take over any formal internet café association already existing on the local level. In fact it encourages the formation of local internet café organizations in places in the country where there is none. It hopes to work with the officials and members of the local internet café associations by providing them a national program that could lead to the total development and acceptance of the internet café as a partner in nation building. I-Café Pilipinas keeps the door open for discussion rather than taking on a combative stand on issues affecting the operations of the internet café. It hopes to form consultative linkages with government institutions and Page | 7
  8. 8. allied industries in the formulation of policies that would greatly affect the industry. I-Cafe Pilipinas “Challenging the I-Cafe Industry in the Philippines to do better” I-Café Pilipinas believes in the internet industry and its important role in providing affordable internet access to the Philippine community. It believes that the internet cafe industry could provide greater opportunities and can contribute to community development. It believes that through proper education and training, the internet cafe owners, operators and the different icafe associations could be a great influence in the daily lives of the average Filipino through information communication technology. I-Café Pilipinas believes in the following: Community Building – the I-cafe owner is an integral part of today’s community by providing affordable internet access to a majority of Filipinos who could not afford to have one at home or at work. He is the bridge that provides the community with access to the wider world of the internet. Professionalism – the I-cafe owner should be aware of his great responsibility in operating an internet cafe in their respective community. As compared to other industries his business establishment creates a greater impact to the community in which he operates in that sometimes could change the lives of the people around him. Ethical Use of Technology – “Great Powers means Great Responsibilities”, the internet cafe owner being in the fore front in the rapid changing technology should be guided on how to use these technology that would bring improvements in the lives of the people in their respective communities. Page | 8
  9. 9. Social Entrepreneurship – engaging in business not only for profit. Internet cafe owners are socially aware to the effects of his business to his customers and the community. Our Mission Our Mission is our purpose that serves as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions:  To uplift the image of the internet cafe as a business that could contribute to community development  To uplift the quality of life of the internet cafe owner/operator  To create the dynamics to inculcate values formation and fair business standards for the internet cafe owner/operator. Our Vision Our vision serves as the framework and guides every aspect of our network by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth.  Internet Cafe Owner/Operator – to provide programs, trainings and linkages that would improve the manner in which they are engage in their business  Community – Uplifting the standards of services of each internet cafe business around the country to ensure of their continuous consumer satisfaction.  Partners – provide meaningful linkages with customers and allied companies to ensure the continuous growth and development of the internet cafe industry. Page | 9
  10. 10. Values Our values serve as a compass for our actions and describe how we behave in the world. o Leadership: The courage to shape a better future o Transparency: What we do, we let other people know o Collaboration: Leverage collective genius o Integrity: Be real o Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me o Passion: Committed in heart and mind o Camaraderie: Friendship through advocacy o Professionalism: We do unto others what we expect them to do to us. I-Cafe Pilipinas is a social advocacy group the primary purpose of which is to start the initiative in building a national network of internet cafe owners around the country. it is aiming to be the voice of every internet cafe owners/operators on issues that greatly affects the operations of his business. Page | 10
  11. 11. I-Café Pilipinas Strategic Roadmap for the Internet Café Industry 2010 -2012 The challenge is great for the internet café industry to transform itself from its present condition to be the leader in information communication technology integration in the community level. There is a need to uplift the image of the industry from all levels in order to command respect from government authorities and their client-aficionados. I. Creating the National Network I-Café Pilipinas is only a national advocacy network. It primarily concerns itself in creating networks and formulating programs that aims to bring improvements in the internet café industry in the Philippines. It relies on a national based network of its affiliates in order to deliver these programs on to the different internet café owners and operators around the country. Identification and strengthening of the different internet café associations at the community level. – I-Café Pilipinas hopes to identify and get in touch with the different internet café associations that already exist in the different parts of the country to discuss with them possible collaborations that could lead to the strengthening of the industry in their respective places. Encouraging the formation of internet café associations on places where there is none – I-Café Pilipinas hopes to provide information and training to internet café owners in a particular area to encourage them to form an internet café association of their own so that they would be properly represented. Formation of Local Chapters – in places wherein the local internet café associations are not willing to form a collaborative alliance with I-Café Pilipinas or would not want to form their own internet café associations the formation of a local I-Café Pilipinas Chapter of Affiliates would be encourage as long as there is a clamor among the internet café owners in the area to form one. Page | 11
  12. 12. II. Linking the Internet Café operators with the rest of the ICT community. I-Café Pilipinas believes that finding solutions to the problems facing the internet café industry does not only lay with the internet café owners themselves but it also need the involvement of the rest of the stakeholders in the ICT industry. Part of the work of I-Café Pilipinas is to network with the other stakeholders in the ICT industry particularly in the following areas: Affordable Computer Hardware and peripherals – the success of an internet café operator depends on the fact that he must have access to affordable computer packages and peripherals that would suit his needs and the needs of his customers. Affordable Computer Software Systems – I-Café Pilipinas hopes to bring a resolution to the use of pirated software in the internet café industry by talking with the software developers on a program that would bring about an affordable software package to the internet café operators. In order for the industry to grow it must not be in constant threat of being shutdown or being harassed by law enforcers due to the proliferation of pirated software in the industry. I-Café Pilipinas hopes to inculcate to the internet café owner that purchasing of genuine software is not really an expense but of an investment on their part since they would be able to enjoy other benefits that they could use as an add on their basic services. Access to Affordable Capital – One of the primary reason why an internet café owner could not grow in this industry is that they are limited to the amount of money that they have invested in their respective internet cafes. Finding additional and affordable capital that they could use for additional computer hardware and improvements are very difficult to come by due to the fast depreciation of computer units and most of them lack Page | 12
  13. 13. the necessary legal documentation so that they could be eligible to this kind of facilities. I-Café Pilipinas hopes to network with financial institutions that offers micro lending facilities to provide affordable capital to the internet café owner. In the long run it is hoped that I-Café Pilipinas would be able to establish an ICT cooperative in each of its affiliates. Better relationship with the national government agencies and the local government units – I-Café Pilipinas hopes to strive for a better working relationship with national government agencies and the local government units in order to come up with policies and legislations that would aim to provide support instead of restrictions and greater participation of the internet café industry in community affairs. Better Relationship with Educational Institutions – For years now the internet café and educational institution has been at odds with each other due to the nature of its operations. I- Café Pilipinas hopes to hopes to bridge the gap between the two by making the internet café as a platform for education and safe internet access to the students. The Internet Café as a Platform for the Development of eCommerce and eGovernance in the Philippines. – I-Café Pilipinas believes in the power of the internet in developing trade and commerce in a particular area. It also believes in bringing government services closer to the people through the use of the World Wide Web. It hopes to develop the internet café as a platform in which these services could be availed by the respective communities that could bring economic development and greater government presence. III. Continuous development of the Internet Café Owner through education I-Café Pilipinas hopes to improve the conditions of the internet café industry in the Philippines by providing standards in which will improve the Page | 13
  14. 14. services rendered to the customers by the internet café operators. It does not subscribe to the idea of imposing regulations but strives for the continuous development of the internet café owner through education. I- Café Pilipinas believes that fear through the imposition of regulations would not work and is committed in the formation of educational materials that would inform the internet café owner on how to properly run his business to earn a decent profit from his operations. I-Café Pilipinas believes that innovation is the key in improving the present situation of the internet café industry. It hopes to provide information to the internet café owner on the latest innovations and trends in the ICT industry through various ways: Through regular workshops and seminars to be organized by the different internet café associations in the different places in the country Through postings in our website, forum and blogs By subscribing to our emagazine that would be made available to the internet café owner on a regular basis It hopes to form the I-Café Academy that would be the one in charge of the training of the internet café owner either online or by attending one of its official classes. Page | 14