Mobile and Sharing Economy in Manila – End of 2014 Review

I was in Manila for the holidays. Here’s what’s new in mobile and sharing there. (Manila can be used as a proxy to understand other large SE Asian cities.)


The biggest news in 2014 was the rise of “ride-sharing” – and Uber is getting killed in this market!

– taxi drivers use CloudFone and HuaWei Android phones and phablets with Google Maps because they’re cheap and thus theft-deterrent compared to brand-names. This illustrates the rise of good-enough Chinese smartphones.
– Google maps are pretty accurate in metro Manila
– some drivers enable Wifi hotspot in their taxi.

Free WiFi decal on side of Manila taxi, operated by Ryo Aki Taxi Inc. provided by Android phone tethering.

Grabtaxi “valet” kiosk at Magnolia Mall in New Manila with holiday hours schedule. Photo credit M. Santos.

Grabtaxi is the #1 ride-sharing system in Manila. It is a well-funded (Softbank) Uber-clone used by regulated, metered taxi drivers with an excellent Uber-style app.
– less robberies for driver and pax (some pax register with phone #, name and address but leave off house number). Women adore Grabtaxi.
– booking fee is P70 (USD $1.59) if no promo (xmas promo “hohoho”) added to fare, collected from driver.

– Uber is not as safe because private cars are used, not regulated public transport (India case in point), but operator can avoid/delay the P180,000 (USD $4,090.00) taxi licensing fee
– Uber’s surge pricing results in surprises.


iPhone 6 un-availability at Beyond the Box, Century City Mall in Makati. Photo credit M. Santos.

– outside the office, desktop computers are dead – everything is phone or tablet now
– half and half iPhone vs. Android, Samsung if they can afford it
– Blackberry rapidly disappearing.

Carriers and Data Plans

– 70% Globe (including Touch Mobile)/30% Smart (including Talkntext)
– Smart had unlimited plans for P2,000 (USD $45.45)/month/2 years (crushing Globe sales) before iPhone 6 release – that means Smart iPhone users are reluctant to upgrade from iPhone 5 at contract renewal time.

Domestic Phones

– Cherry and MyPhone Android devices are assembled locally


– not that popular yet because of fees compared to Facebook pages
– Citibank has a P2000 discount offer for AirBnB users.


– not popular because of listing fee and shipping to other countries

Social Media

– Facebook/Instagram dominates.

Text Chat

– Vibr most popular because of graphics and stickers, Whatsapp not as fancy.

Video Chat

– Facetime used within family or group of friends who use iPhone
– Skype also used.


– still prefer in-person brick-and-mortar shopping to check size and quality, as returns are generally not allowed. The average Filipina shops in malls for discount sales, otherwise enjoys the food court and cinema.
– ecommerce is a last resort, used for international items to obtain special brands or sizes like luxury goods (ie. collectibles, golf gloves, replacement parts, etc.)
– “hobby ecommerce” using Facebook fan page/album or Instagram. Payment in advance with free delivery to friends/co-workers.
– Pinterest still kind of new
– not a single web site in SE Asia is safe to enter your credit card number! Use Paypal via a US booking site, like or

Exchange rate: USD $1 = P44.

New Questions in Mobile: An Asian Perspective
New Year’s Eve 2014 Manila Fireworks

SoftBank Emerges As The Biggest Challenger To Uber

This entry was posted in Business, Cloud, Tablets, Tech, Toys, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.