PC Adoption & Software Piracy Rates in Asia

By: Jose Allan Tan

Software piracy remains the scourge of many a software vendor. Through the efforts of lobbyist organizations such as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) governments in Asia are taking positive steps in reducing illegal software use both at the consumer level and in some cases even at the corporate and government levels.

The recently completed "Global Software Piracy Study" conducted by IDC and sponsored by the BSA commends combined government and industry anti-software efforts in slowing down software piracy. Click here to read the report [

"However, rapid PC growth in higher-piracy emerging markets translates into an overall increase in global piracy," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC. "We expect this trend to continue, meaning industry and government must increasingly focus their efforts on combating piracy in these emerging economies."? ?

Leading the industry charge is the Business Software Alliance (BSA) - a a trade group established in 1988 and representing the interests of some of the world's largest software manufacturers.

Roland Chan, Director of Marketing for BSA Asia, claims that the joint efforts by BSA and local government bodies is helping change the perception about the value of intellectual property.

"The success of the awareness building process stems from the close cooperation between the relevant government agencies and the BSA in rolling out marketing program," says Chan.

What sort of success are we looking at?

In Hong Kong, the BSA worked with the Hong Kong Government's Intellectual Property Department to launch the Genuine Business Software Campaign in October 2006. Chan claims that the GBSC has resulted in "tremendous awareness being created in the corporate sector of the virtues of software asset management."

Similarly, in Malaysia, the BSA works closely with the Malaysian Government's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, to conduct enforcement related PR and rolling out marketing/educational programs each year. Likewise in Singapore, the BSA works closely with the Intellectual Property of Singapore to conduct educational awareness programs. In Indonesia, the BSA works with closely with the Police as well as the Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights.

Asked what remains as the biggest stumbling block to a wider acceptance of IP and significant reductions in software piracy, Chan says there is still work needed to increase appreciation for the role and importance of software as an invaluable productivity tool of a business today.

"It may be obvious to some, but for others, they still consider computers as a productivity tool rather than software. The simple answer is that you need software for a computer to function as a productivity tool. Once there is full appreciation of the role and importance of software, that is when an organization would attach full value to the productivity it brings about, and be better prepared to pay for it," notes Chan.

The mantra of the BSA hasn't changed significantly from its early days but the scope of the effort has expanded with the widespread and growing adoption of the Internet.

Chan notes that "Today, with the wide penetration of the internet, the threat of virus attacks is prevalent everywhere with hundreds of new threats introduced each week." Chan encourages everyone to go to the organization's website to get a glimpse of the BSA's range of work.

Two things might change the software piracy landscape in the coming years: Software as a Service (SaaS) and Open Source Software.

In the movie, "Sum of All Fears" a scared and angry American President is playing Chicken with his Kremlin counterpart. In the middle of the war of testorone is CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Seeking to thwart the threat of world annihiliation Ryan communicates to the Russian President using the Internet. The American President ordered his aides to cut off Ryan but was bluntly told that it is the nature of the Internet to be indestructible.

While the Internet has had its glitches, it has found a strong following with business users of all size and shapes. This low cost, highly reliable platform for conducting business is finding new found meaning to businesses in the form of business software sold on a pay-as-you-go model.

Not quite farther away is Open Source software. Once the playground of students and the education community, Open Source software that mimicks many of today's proprietary software is starting to take root. And someday, businesses will find reliable and low cost or almost "free" software that can run their operations just as effectively as they do today with current generation of applications.

What will work best for your business? Chan advises companies thinking of about what software path to take to do their homework. "Do your research, find the best solutions that fill your needs, and evaluate the total cost of ownership when considering investing into IT," he says.

"Software is a productivity tool, and the right selection, usage and management will result in businesses realizing maximum productivity and security in their use of IT," concludes Chan.

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