October 13, 2013

ROI3, Inc. - Tools for Empowerment

This is the first post on this blog since February 6, 2011. What was I doing since then? Along with two partners, Bill Joern of Washington, DC and Steve Drake of Silver Spring, Md., I incorporated ROI3, Inc. in the state of Washington. This blog will serve as a platform to discuss the initiatives my colleagues and I implement at ROI3 as well as communicating with you, our customers, friends and supporters, the latest trends of mobile technology in emerging and developing countries.

Many of you have provided untold support and we are tremendously grateful. All of us at ROI3 are excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead and we look forward to sharing them with you. We encourage you to provide feedback in the comment section located at the bottom of each post. Thank you.

Company and Technology Background

Incorporated on July 1, 2011, ROI3 creates applications, content and services for smartphone and tablet users in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The company’s mission is to empower people in developing countries with innovative, technology-based solutions.

ROI3’s primary goal is to provide exceptional service to each and every customer with a brand that represents integrity, quality, and innovation. Examples of how ROI3’s content and services will help customers include:
  1. Assisting individuals with learning or improving English language skills;
  2. Educating individuals on health, sanitation, well-being and preventable diseases;
  3. Providing farmers with critical and timely information on best practices, pricing, and weather;
  4. Facilitating the growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises;  and
  5. Promoting financial literacy for individuals, families and businesses.
The value of ROI3's software-as-a-service resides in localized, relevant content delivered through an innovative technology platform. ROI3’s mLearning content will include, among other topics, English Language Learning (mELL), health, agriculture, small business management, financial literacy, and government services. ROI3 will consider developing apps or services in other sectors should an opportunity present itself for monetization through new or existing customers.

ROI3’s software is hosted in the cloud, which users may access through a native app specifically designed for the Android operating system, or an HTML5 app optimized for the iOS (iPhone and iPad), BlackBerry, Windows Phone or a standard web browser. In addition, our software is designed to be accessed through devices manufactured by China-based companies.

With the introduction of new operating systems such as Firefox OS, Sailfish, and Ubuntu, ROI3's HTML5 app provide an engaging user experience with an intuitive user interface, social interaction among users, and security with the latest encryption technology irrespective of mobile device or operating system.

The uniqueness of ROI3's technology, which is accessed through smartphones and tablets, lie within the following technical components:
  • Animation: To make the transition between screens fluid, ROI3 writes its own menu component and combined them with some intelligent loading of screens, optimized to the user’s bandwidth and other factors;
  • Gamification: ROI3 utilizes various gaming components including a rewards system in order to achieve a fun, challenging and satisfactory experience for the user;
  • Scrolling:  ROI3's writes its own components to deal with the rendering issues in browser scrolling including a home-grown slider;
  • Requests: To optimize the pulling of the data, ROI3 uses a combination of methods to detect a user’s bandwidth and latency;
  • Memory footprint: With a hybrid approach, the memory footprint is higher. To remedy this, ROI3 writes optimization code for memory usage; and
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): ROI3 uses GPS to deliver accurate localized information to users with a GPS-enabled mobile device. Furthermore, GPS allows users to submit data, in real-time, that can be analyzed and stored remotely. Features measured with GPS can be displayed on maps and in geographic information systems (GIS) that store, manipulate, and display geographically referenced data.

When appropriate, ROI3 develops its software in collaboration with government agencies, non-governmental organizations or private sector companies.

Market Opportunity

There are 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide, including 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions (compared to 268 mobile broadband subscriptions in 2007), according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In developing countries, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions more than doubled from 2011 to 2013 (from 472 million to 1.16 billion) and surpassed those in developed countries in 2013.[1]

Mobile Broadband Subscriptions (Source: ITU)
Number of Subscriptions
Penetration Rate
93 million
460 million
Arab States
71 million
895 million
129 million
422 million

Among smartphone users worldwide, there is an increasing demand for interactivity and engagement.  At the same time, consumers have embraced the entertainment and convenience of online learning, while businesses appreciate the efficiency and economic value of online learning programs. Expanding high-speed mobile broadband (3G and 4G) infrastructure coupled with access to inexpensive smartphones and tablets has led to a desire by consumers and businesses in emerging and developing countries for innovative and relevant mLearning services. Asia has the highest growth rate for eLearning in the world at 17 percent. Revenue reached $5.2 billion in 2011 and will more than double to $11.5 billion by 2016.[2]

In 2017, Asia Pacific will reach 1.9 billion unique mobile subscribers, almost half of global total of 3.9 billion.[3] China, an initial market for ROI3’s apps, currently has over 300 million 3G subscribers[4] and will see smartphone shipments exceed 460 million units by 2017.[5] Furthermore, China is expected to have 440 million 4G users by 2017.[6]

Countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are making similar improvements that will make ASEAN mobile broadband and device adoption rates comparable to China in the near-future, thus creating an opportunity to monetize ROI3’s apps and services across a broader Asian landscape. For example, two in every five mobile handsets sold in Thailand from May 2012 through April 2013 was a smartphone.[7]

As reflected in the table above, Africa and Latin America will experience a rapid growth rate of high-speed mobile broadband subscribers over the next five to ten years as mobile network operators continue to make significant investments to deploy the necessary physical infrastructure. Moreover, device manufacturers are developing mobile devices at a cost that is affordable to a greater number of people in emerging and developing economies. These developments create a demand by consumers and enterprises alike for value-added mobile content.

Management Team

ROI3’s leadership is well-experienced in developing and managing successful businesses. The management team includes:
  • Aaron D. Rose, President, Treasurer, and Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for the overall management and leadership of the company. He possesses 20 years of international business experience and an understanding of the uses and benefits of technology in developing markets.
  • William C. Joern, Executive Chairman, is responsible for establishing the company’s strategic direction and achieving its long-term goals. He has more than 40 years of general management, strategic planning, and program development and evaluation experience.
  • Steven E. Drake, Executive Vice President and Secretary, oversees ROI3’s marketing, communications and public affairs. He brings more than 30 years of experience developing and leading strategic, global communications programs.
Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

[1] http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2013.pdf
[2] http://www.ambientinsight.com/Resources/Documents/AmbientInsight-2011-2016-Asia-SelfPaced-eLearning-Market-Abstract.pdf
[3] http://asiapacific.gsmamobileeconomy.com/GSMA_APAC_V9_WEB_single.pdf