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Speech by SCED at Asia Smartphone Apps Summit cum Award Presentation Ceremony

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Asia Smartphone Apps Summit cum Award Presentation Ceremony today (June 16):

Kenny (Chairman of the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, Mr Kenny Yiu), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     "My smartphone is my best friend. It's my lifeline to the outside world." I am sure all of us have heard this at one time or another. Indeed, the smartphone is not just becoming a part of our daily lives, it's becoming a part of each and every one of us. Some of us may actually exhibit nomophobia if we find ourselves without a smartphone on our hand.

     The smartphone is truly a phenomenal success story. These gadgets are compact and yet occupy a huge place in our lives. They are cordless and yet connect us with the whole world. And the best thing is they require swiping with users' fingers for operation, so they force people to do physical exercise at all times which no dietitians or doctors have succeeded.

     I suppose smartphone users will not be so addicted to the gadget if not for the many apps installed on the mobile devices. Just as smartphones are more than a convenient route online, apps are more than a user-friendly interface between online services and smartphones. Apps customise smartphones to meet personal needs. It is no exaggeration to say that apps have enriched our lives, reshaped the business landscape, and brought people closer together.

     Just take a look at how people have relied on apps for instant messaging services and gaining access to social media, and you will understand using apps has become an integral part of our lives. Apps are also a multi-billion-dollar business. Apple alone sold apps worth more than US$14 billion in 2014. Apps-related businesses have created 3.3 million jobs in America and Europe.

     Hong Kong, with our time-tested advantages and large pool of tech-savvy people, is the perfect testing ground for new apps. Indeed, we have one of the best infrastructures in information and communications technology in the world. The mobile penetration rate is around 230 per cent, which is among the highest in the world. The number of mobile users with access to 2.5G, 3G or 4G mobile data services stands at 15 million, and the average mobile data usage per user is around 1,300 megabytes per month. Our average peak Internet connection speed is 105 Mbps, which is the second fastest in the world. Our average Internet connection speed at 16.8 Mbps ranks sixth in the world.

     You may ask, how do we help promote the apps industry and encourage the creativity of apps developers? The HKSAR Government has recently injected an additional HK$400 million into the CreateSmart Initiative (CSI) to provide support to projects which are conducive to the development of creative industries, which of course includes the apps industry.

     In the coming years, CSI will accord priority to nurturing talents and supporting start-ups. Start-ups is a thriving sector that we have been paying close attention to. In fact, according to a survey on the mobile apps industry commissioned by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, close to 80 per cent of apps developers are start-ups with less than five years of business operation. We are seeing a trend that more and more start-ups, local or overseas, choose to start their businesses here in Hong Kong. It is a testament to Hong Kong being one of the fastest growing start-up hubs in the world. We will continue to facilitate stakeholders in the apps industry to use Hong Kong as a lab, a showcase and a global launch pad.

     Last but not least, I would like to congratulate the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association on another successful run of the Asia Smartphone Apps Contest and Summit. And it is indeed our pleasure to sponsor this very important event four years in a row. My congratulations also go to the winning apps and their developers.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, June 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:22