Sunday, February 01, 2009

Mobile Internet boom: Not yet?

Robin Thomas reports in exchange4media:

Active mobile Internet users in the country number at 30 million, while nearly 100 million people have activated GPRS on their mobile phones.

“I don’t think it’s as niche as we believe it to be, because at mkhoj we are seeing a lot of traffic come through smaller towns,” says Naveen Tewari, CEO, mKhoj. “It will take another two years until it reaches a significant mass level. This is because the handset prices are certainly coming down. So also data charges are reducing all the time.”

“For Internet via mobile to have a deeper penetration in India what is required is a little bit of consumer education, on getting GPRS connection and access to relevant content,” says Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea. “For the urban users, there is a necessity of more aggressive promotion and a handset that is more GPRS friendly.”

“I don’t think there is a need to target the rural masses right now,” says Viren Popli, Senior VP, Mobile Entertainment, Star India. “I believe the first step really is to get our aids well and get the large cities sorted out. Second is to get into category A and B towns and cities. Mobile Internet is no longer niche, if the mobile Internet penetration is 10 per cent, you are talking of 35 million individuals. I believe as we go forward, what needs to be done for further growth is that the speed needs to be better, accessibility to the Internet needs to be better and most importantly services and content needs to be better.”

“Villages are perhaps the best bet for mobile Internet to breeze through,” says Saurabh Vartikar, Vice President – Mobile Marketing, Mauj Mobile. “In metros or even towns, we have multiple media that we can access, whether for information or entertainment. In rural India though, even a call on the mobile is an event. So, if there are regional portals and operators, people will learn about them and access them. We can then have a winner. Services like commodity prices, regional TV, etc. can fly.”

3G rollout

“With 3G, you are going to get a better GPRS speed on your mobile phone and the 3G users will get high speed, high bandwidth usage and so on, therefore, 3G rollout will definitely change a lot of things as and when it’s going to happen,” says Popli.

“Initially, 3G will be used more for network optimisation since there has been scarcity of spectrum for long,” says Vartikar. “Also, 3G handsets are still expensive for the general public. But, as time passes and handset prices rationalise, we will see the launch of newer and better services, and hence adaptation. We see a 2-3 year time frame for that to happen.”