Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plagiarism stunts growth of young app developers

Plagiarism stunts growth of young app developers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The ‘EySey’ app, which allows Cambodian children to read ancient Khmer folktales. Photo supplied

Plagiarism stunts growth of young app developers

Over the past 5 years, the number of app developers in Cambodia has grown exponentially, with more than 30 companies now operating in the Kingdom. Despite the growth of the industry, more developers are needed in an effort to address systemic issues within the business management, financial transaction and marketing fields.

Ear Uy started out as an app developer and founded Osjar Studio, a company that has been creating mobile gaming apps since 2012 and has won numerous local and international awards for their work. Looking back at the last 10 years, he said the concept of being an app developer has only recently stopped being out of the ordinary.

Apps have multiple roles in telecom and financial industries
 
Many telecom companies have merged together in recent years, leaving only three major players in the telecom market: Metfone, Mobitel and Smart. A decade ago, they were more competitive in terms of capacity building, creating networks and coverage areas by expanding the proliferation of antennas. They received lots of competition from internet providers, and they are now battling for a spot in the app development world.

One of the leading app developers in the telecoms industry is Smart Axiata, which has four apps: SmaryLuy, SmartMusic, SmartVIP and SmartNas. Mobitel has only one app, called the CellCard App.

SmartLuy is seen as the smartest and easiest way to top up and transfer money to anyone, anywhere in Cambodia. SmartMusic, meanwhile, brings entertainment and music to life through your phone.

The CellCard app allows you to top up your mobile phone and customise your CellCard account with a single touch. The app also allows users to log in and post their comments on the app. Here is a selection of comments from users:

Thearith Yang: “I think CellCard has bad service here. There was negative feedback with no response at all. I myself registered to the app with a typo in my name and there is no option to edit it. Poorly designed app.”

Vita Right: “Very good, easy to use.”

Huyang Te: “Only has the register or subscribe buttons but there is no unsubscribe button.”

Chantol Seak: “I think you can make money off of the phone so I can buy things online. I only wanted that because Smart has it and CellCard does not have it. Thank You.”

Chantra Sok: “Error, error, error! My username and password are not recognized. Cannot connect to serve. I will try more and spend more time on more attempts. Frustrated!”

Keo Phannan: “You are a good app congratulations! The first app for telecoms in Cambodia. Easy to recharge money, easy to change promotions, easy to check money, and another company cannot do it like you. Thank you and good luck.”

There are about 10 apps from the telecoms sector. Banks and independent institutions, meanwhile, have also come together to create apps for the financial industry, such as PiPay and DaraPay. Other banks, like ABA, Acleda, Unity and ToanChet, have their own mobile banking apps.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

“If someone said, ‘I am an app developer,’ it would be very strange a decade ago, and they would have to give lots of explanations,” he said. “But now it is not like that anymore.”

He pointed to his own company as evidence of the growth of the industry, telling Post Supplements that his staff has grown from 5 members to 17, and he is eager to hire more people.

“Mobile apps are becoming more popular among smartphone users, while other apps offer beneficial treats, for example some apps provide convenient financial transaction solutions for buying goods or food at restaurants and cafes with a special discount, like PiPay,” he said.

“Some other apps are created for business management, while others are for entertainment, such as music, games, movies, health monitoring and others. Some focus on education, with things like reading and listening, exercise and tales.”

Uy said his company has been working on a educational app for the last year named ‘EySey’. The apps focuses on retelling old Khmer tales, focusing on children by letting them listen, read and watch the stories in an easy way.

“We came up with this app because we’ve learnt that most kids now have their own electronic gadgets. But they only tend to be drawn to foreign movies, and I’m afraid they will forget our stories. That’s why we created EySey,” he said. “We have uploaded 16 stories into the app already, including Kroper Romeul Kun [Disgraceful Crocodile], Sdach Baksey [King Bird], Ka-ek 1 Ka-ek 10 [1 Crow 10 Crows] and Ta EySey [A priest].”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

He explained that each story has been scrutinised in an effort to tailor them to modern audiences and to make them easy to produce. There have been a few speed bumps as the company figures out how to manage drawing, designing, costuming the characters, animating and creating voiceovers, and illustrating transition scenes for the characters.

“We have revised them and removed some violent parts, but added more short educational messages, such as ‘good doings come from good deeds’ etc.” EySey is now available for download, and you can listen, read and watch Khmer cartoon animations with both English and Khmer subtitles.

Uy added that in order to make the app, he had to spend months, even years, working on the product and using a significant amount of their budget.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Children use the story app during an event. Photo supplied

“For my team, EySey cost us seven to eight months before we launched it,” he said. “EySey has been used and listened to by 60,000 accounts and they have access to two stories for free and then only $0.50 for each extra story.”

Be Chantra, founder and managing partner of co-working space EmeraldHub, said through his organisation’s research and initiatives, such as their BarCamp competition for students, they have found that younger generations like using high-end smartphones and learning how to create something new and unique of their own.

Online Transactions Become More Popular Due to Discount Offers
 
Kuoch Sok Ly, president of the CBM Corporation, said some apps were created specifically for financial transactions. However, the apps are only popular when they offer discounts or other beneficial treats.

A manager at Tous Les Jours Bakery who asked not to be named said many young people under the age of 25 use PiPay for most transactions.

“They come to pay via PiPay because it’s something that makes them look cool,” she said. “They are students and staff members, however, it has also increased our sales by 10 percent to 20 percent more as well.”

“Through BarCamp in the last 10 years, we have observed that groups of young people have discovered a new potential career: app development. There are 120 companies or groups working on apps, but there are only 30 that have been successful,” Chantra said.

“We regret the some groups have failed, but it was not because of their professionalism. It was because of plagiarism. While our laws are still loose when it comes to intellectual property infringement, this factor interrupts the growth of creativity in this industry.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Be Chantra, founder and managing partner of co-working space EmeraldHub. Bennett Murray

Chantra added that tourism, financial, health, education and agriculture apps are the most popular, with agriculture apps taking the cake as one people are most interested in. The agriculture apps available “make it easier to increase productivity and reduce daily work, as well as save capital”, he said.

When it comes to financial apps, Chantra and Uy said security was the priority. That is why, they said, companies developing mobile payment apps like Wing ABA and PiPay have their own dedicated teams working on them.

“They are very careful and cautious. For example, Smart Axiata has a few apps of their own, including the Smart Music app that offers music and Smart Luy for money exchanges through their own network,” Be said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon