PLDT will not just be an Internet pipe for data, chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told shareholders during a meeting Thursday afternoon in Dusit Thani hotel in Makati City.
The company needs to “move firmly into social media, social networking and Internet spaces before they move into ours and eat our lunch,” Pangilinan told the company’s shareholders and officials.
“Innovation and competition will not only come from telcos like ourselves but also from ‘over the top’ players belonging to the Internet space like Facebook, Google, Apple and YouTube, which actually compete with us,” he said.
He later told reporters who interviewed him at the venue, “margins are getting depressed by staying purely as a distribution company, as an infrastructure company… We have to be something more than that.”
“And really the next frontier lies in the media space — both in the legacy and in the new media space. And how you will blend the telco, utility operations with the creative part of social media is a big challenge. Nobody has been successful yet,” he said.
Pangilinan told shareholders it was difficult to see what shape the changes will be but “they will happen.”
“The fact is that we will all communicate more with smartphones, tablets, laptops and smart televisions.”
“It’s possible that the Googles of the world, the social networks of the world will get into the telco space. For them to offer and deliver their own services, they need the telcos, and for the telcos to enlarge and enhance their services, they need the social media, “ he said.
“There will be some form of combination of the telco as utility and social media as providing the sort of content that the telcos need to deliver.”
In a press conference with journalists from all over the country held after the meeting, Pangilinan again stressed the need for the company to go beyond being a “pure highway” for data.
He also said, in answer to the question of Cebu Daily News publisher Eileen Mangubat, that the “print component of the total media space is there. It’s very important.”
He stressed the importance of delivering content to the different platforms and noted how Inquirer.net and the Philstar website are very active.
“The more content you have, the better your ability to cater to the needs of the consumer,” he said.
Pangilinan said demand for media will become more individualistic across multiple devices.
“Kids would have smartphones, laptops or even their own television sets. They will watch what you don’t watch. They will want to watch at a time that they want to watch. Right now we are slaves to the scheduled programs of TV stations. News at 6 oclock, followed by teleserye…You have a schedule to follow, I think that’s gonna change,” he said.
During the discussion, Pangilinan clarified that the arrangement with GMA 7 and TV5, if indeed the deal is consummated, is not a “merger” but something similar to what happened to Sun after its purchase. He said the two stations would be operating independently.
Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu. He has written and edited for such publications as The Freeman, The Independent Post, Today, Sun.Star Cebu, Cebu Daily News, Philstar Life, and Rappler.
He is also a mobile app and web developer and co-founded InnoPub Media with his wife Marlen.
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