Aug 29, 2008

Business -Why Apple wants to fill the Indian Pie

Now that the iPhone frenzy has subsided a bit, both industry and users have thankfully moved on to the next logical discussion - that of the 3G ecosystem. Let's face the facts. By now, geeks have globally dissected the iPhone to be an unimpressive phone with unmatched browsing and touch-screen capabilities. But does Apple or, for that matter, any of its smart(phone) cousins, spare a care for voice traffic anymore?Be it Nokia, Sony Ericsson, HTC, RIM, Siemens, LG - you name it, they are all focused on the 'Indian panache' for data services. And as 3G becomes a reality, they would have moved way beyond data to the multimedia magic. The case is ditto for the carriers. Therefore, the telcos seem to have more than one reason to put most of their eggs in the non-voice services basket.

Sample this. India today has more users surfing the net with a mobile phone than with a computer. Indian mobile data revenue for operators is expected to outpace that of voice services and contribute to about a fifth of total revenues by 2011, doubling year-on-year, according to research firm Gartner.The total internet connections (whether dial-up or broadband) in India account for 9.22 million while 38 million users (nearly double the 16 million users almost a year ago) are connected to the web through mobile phones, as per the data furnished by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).And lastly, as per the research firm Bango, 9 per cent of all access to mobile websites globally comes from India and it has been growing rapidly.
Those seem to be good reasons for telecos - both handset companies, as well as, the service providers, to treat voice traffic as a lesser cousin and focus on creating a services ecosystem.But, when it comes to the ecosystem - there are other bits and pieces that are gradually falling into place."Globally the average pages visited by a surfer are 260 per month. But this average is substantially higher for Indian users. So, it is a no brainer to weave a revenue model around those potential users who are ready to jump on to the net from their mobiles, provided we enable them. It can be done with a solution that is either pre-installed into their high-end cellphones or downloadable for the low end ones. We have recognized the opportunity and presently India is the number three market for us globally," Opera Software CEO Jon von Tetzchner told the Norway-based Opera Software operates in the niche of putting the web on any device.

Opera has tied up with Tata Teleservices to provide Opera Mini (mobile browser) on some of its BREW-enabled handsets. The bigger feat is that the carrier has empowered its customers to access internet in local languages as well with Opera supporting local language websites.According to Tetzchner, in July alone, 15.8 million Opera Mini users generated more than 53.8 million MB of data for operators worldwide. Since the data is compressed 90 per cent on an average, this would mean 538 million MB of data being generated.Even a small proportion of that usage coming from India obviously means big business for enablers like Opera.
content developers to aggregators and finally the marketers who can't wait to mint moolah through targeted promotions."So far, all promotional activity for companies is one-sided with companies pushing SMSs or worst still, making voice calls to sell. But, with the customers profiling that can be achieved by studying the browsing patterns of mobile users, a company can reach out bang to the target audience and initiate interactive campaigns," says Sanjit Chatterjee who is the Global Sales and Marketing head for Flytxt, a UK headquartered mobile marketing software firm. So an Armani can connect straight with the iPhone users in India instead of pushing messages to all and sundry.Clearly, post the great Indian mobile voice revolution, the services ecosystem is what telcos and supporting vendors have their eyes on. It's a space to watch over the next few months

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