January 21, 2014 - 20:06 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - While Armenia is preparing for the will launch of locally made smartphones and tablets, an article in Financial Times speculates whether it’s probable.
The new Android-based devices - ArmPhone and ArmTab - were developed by an Armenian-American joint venture, Technology and Science Dynamics Inc/Armtab Technologies Company.
The idea may not, in fact, be as improbable as it sounds, FT says. Dubbed the Soviet Silicon Valley, pre-independence Armenia had more scientists and specialists per capita than any other Soviet republic. Nearly 30 per cent of hi-tech computer and electronic equipment used for Soviet defense and space systems were developed and produced in and around the capital, Yerevan, it says.
In 2012 there were about 360 IT companies in Armenia, with average annual growth of 23 per cent, according to the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, the country’s leading IT consulting firm. Revenues accounted for 3.3 per cent of national GDP, with the industry contributing 8 per cent of total exports. About one in 10 of the companies has a turnover of $1m and over. The number of small outfits with less than $100,000 in revenues increased significantly during the last five years and, although they don’t have a visible impact on the industry’s aggregate numbers, their rise is a signal of the dynamism in the market.
Web entrepreneurs cram small offices around Yerevan, looking for the next PicsArt, the world’s leading mobile photo editor app for android and iOS which has more than 90m users and is a fully made-in-Armenia app, FT says.
Although Armenia’s figures are tiny compared with the likes of India, they are significant enough to grab the attention of international corporations. In 2011, Microsoft established an Innovation Center in the capital and the same year Armenia and India set up a joint Center for Excellence in Information Communication Technologies at Yerevan State University, it adds.
“The industry is thriving,” says Bagrat Yengibaryan, EIF’s director. “Of eight start-ups in 2012, six were local businesses and we registered a 10 per cent growth in start-ups last year. For 2013, we are talking about $300m in revenues. Most companies focus on software development. Major firms like Pixar are starting to use Armenian products. Partnerships with heavyweights like Microsoft and Singapore Tech Kinetics are still essential but a new wave of specialized professionals are exploring new fields.”