The Internet Ready Lahore

Six years ago, I used to explain to shop owners what a website is and why their business should have one. It took good 15 20 minute discussions and question/answer sessions to get the point across, even to the educated businessperson. All of that, only to be told, ‘no, we’d rather not have a website, it’s of no use to us’. (I did not use to tell them to have a website because I was doing social service only, I wanted to design a website for them for cold, hard cash.) Well, six years down the line, the business community of Lahore is slowly but surely changing. (although me wanting cold hard cash to develop a website has pretty much stayed the same :) – link to my website design firm based here in Lahore)

While meeting almost half of DHA shops in the last month or so, for advertising in Shopwell ~ your shopping guide (a project of direct mail, focusing only on DHA, details available here), 70 percent of them have asked me to design a website for them as well! Now, seventy percent may be a bit off the mark here, given that the clientele I met were not a neatly-spread-out sample. But still, it is much, much better than what it used to be.

The new generation (which I am still a part of I swear I think) has taken to the Internet like the rest of developed/almost-developed world. As new and more fresh perspectives get into the business decision making processes, more and more people are going to realize that a website is actually a good marketing benefit. Some may even find it indispensable.

Am I getting this right? Or am I letting my obvious bias get in the way? What do you all think?

P.S. Those of you who know a google PR from a PR firm from a newspaper PR, will appreciate how smoothly I get a valid PR 5 link to my websites, Alhumdulillah. All in good faith brothers, all in good faith.

7 Comments so far

  1. Usman Farooq (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 12:56 am

    I am not really familiar with the current situation of ISP’s in Pakistan but i know that if they don’t develop better and cheaper ways to connect tot he internet these business will not get the traffic for their e-commerce efforts. I am planning to come down to Lahore next year to experience the internet service first hand. I was disappointed last time because of the cost and the lack of demand.

    As i see things are changing rapidly and i really want Lahore and other cities in Pakistan to provide better internet service at a cheaper rate just like how Cell Phones companies are running their business. I am really interested in the current state of ISP’s in Pakistan. From the latest i heard Lahore seem to have the best internet connection compare to other major cities. But it is still expensive. A recent illustration in Wired magazine priced Pakistan’s Internet service to be at $106.98/100kps which is twice the average household income comparing to America at $0.49/100 Kbps and South Korea at a mere $0.08/100Kpbs.


  2. Babar (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 4:26 am

    Great topic Momekh,
    Things may be changing as you have described, but so far very little of lahore is available online. Having lived in USA for 5 years it is almost a 2nd habbit to open your browser to find anything you need to know about the businesses in your area. And it works the same way for quite small towns like my own. And even the very small businees, at least leave their contact information on some kind of a portal if not their own website. It gets quite frustrating when you try the same thing for Lahore. Nothing is online. You still have to ask around, call up a few people if you want to know about some business you havent dealt with before. Same is true for the public intitutions and govt website. Despite the claims of e govt for last 5 years, there is not much available online.
    It has one positive aspect though. Guys like you still have huge opportunities for earning hard and cold cash as Lahore tries to come at par with developed world in terms of e advetisment or e business. :)


  3. ReallyVirtual (unregistered) on August 21st, 2007 @ 4:36 am

    @Usman :
    A website for marketing purposes is NOT an ecommerce website, and is not meant to directly sell, so there’s no ecommerce effort as such.
    Even if it is a web-shop, speed does not have much to do with its success/failure, I’ve had many pleasant Amazon shopping experiences on a dialup in the last decade.
    The Wired data you quote is totally wrong, PTCL giving 1mbps for 5K Rs. makes it something around 8$/100K … not cheap, but not very expensive either when compared with the 4$ coffee and 2$ soda in the US.
    Also, I’m sure you’re not planning to ‘come down’ (from the Himalayas?) to Lahore just to experience the net services firsthand. :-)


  4. Usman Farooq (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2007 @ 1:52 am

    @reallyvirtual

    I am not quite sure as to why your comment is cynical towards my comment in which I was just trying to get some positive feedback from people who are actually in Pakistan. But I guess thanks for trying to correct my statements which I will further elaborate on now:

    First off, $83 for 10Mbps is expensive for people who cannot even afford to rent a $200 per month in Lahore (I noticed that when couples walked in to my Father’s real estate office and asked for cheap places to rent. When they heard Rs.13000 they literary skipped a heartbeat and walked out of the office). I will try to contact and look into Wired magazine statistics, maybe they are rounding the figure for the nation as a whole not just the urban cities that you might live in.

    You are a funny guy with your “Himalayas” comment. Hm… Now that I think about it I can plan a trip there. Good old outdoor adventures.

    The problem is I cannot stand dial-up connection after using dedicated 10Mbps down and 2Mbps up for the past few years. I do use torrents on the daily basis to download and share various types of data but I do not consider myself a “pirate” because it is a degrading title made up by the entertainment industry. In the near future I will be moving to Lahore with my parents so I am more interested in the internet connection then you might think because in many ways it is my gateway to the world.

    Also ecommerce, as I came to know it, relates to any business activity conducted on any electronic platform, generally speaking. To be more specific Momekh is talking about E-marketing which is directly related to ecommerce since a business is making an investment in a Website which correlates to advertising and bringing more traffic in or at least getting their name out there for the world to see.

    Yes, I did take your comment a little on the offensive side so I am just trying to clear up what I said earlier. Please reply back because I am looking forward to your satirical writing. |-:


  5. Pretty Simple (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2007 @ 3:12 am

    Basic purpose of websites is to slash communication gap between two parties, in no time all the information is yours. No phone calls, no personal visits. Now there are two things, has it become a trend to have a website? Or is it a real-time necessity to grow and prosper on local and international scene (for which having a website is ultimate requirement considering time factor in modern age). I have firm belief that our people are more tech-oriented now than they were six years back. Its because, overall market trends have changed to meet the global changes. Also six years back, it used to be more expensive and rare.

    So if the shopkeepers (with variety of businesses) are just following a trend and you as a designer don’t think that their website wont bring them any good thing other than adding dab dab dab on their visiting card, then I have a question, would you tell them, that it will be useless for them?

    Bottom line, yes, they have grown up.


  6. ziachishti (unregistered) on August 24th, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

    Dont worry about really virtuals comments. He is always pissed off and always cynical. Be thankful you dont have to deal with him daily. If you ever feel cheerful, go visit really virtual, you will be depressed by the time you leave.


  7. Babar Bhatti (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

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