Media Revolution Triggered By Mobile Phones

Sun, Jun 19, 2011

Biz Arena

This incident is of 19th of February 2011 Saturday; I was listening to a talk being organized on the eve of Techkriti[i] at 3 pm. The talk was going smoothly but suddenly by 4 pm the scene changed a bit and some of the listeners in the audience were busy in pressing keys of their mobile phones. Indian cricket team was playing its first match of 2011 world cup, Virendra Segwag was beating the heat on Bangladesh bowlers and many of the cricket enthusiasts in the audience were busy in checking the scores on their mobile phones. I myself, who owns a Nokia E63, was getting the updates of the match by getting connected to internet with the help WLAN[ii]. What made it possible for the audience sitting inside the auditorium of IIT Kanpur were able to get updates of cricket match which was being played in Bangladesh?

Few years back mobile phones used to be a lifestyle product but nowadays mobiles have become a necessity. The emergence of mobile phone market in India has resulted into the introduction of various smart phones. Over and above, with the STD[iii] rates and the call rates reducing day by day and new competitors entering, the mobile market has flung open to high growth prospects. Here we have all the elements in place: the cost of network access and handsets are going down because of competition, also a niche segment of mobile phone users is showing appetite for digital services. Wikipedia states that there are currently 752 million mobiles in India, out of which the Smartphone base is about 8-9 million users. This figure is a function of sheer population, not deep adoption of mobile phones. This is quite low considering the overall mobile base globally but however the scenario is expected to change very rapidly. One interesting statistic to note is that while global phone shipments showed a decline this year, the Smartphone market actually showed double digit growth. An observed trend among Smartphone user is that more time is spent on entertainment (music, video and gaming) than is spent on voice/sms communication. Third party applications are yet another way to turn the already ‘smart’ phone into an even smarter device and users are taking full advantage of this functionality. Usage of such third-party applications is yet another trend amongst Smartphone users. Users of basic feature phones don’t enjoy this benefit.

Though typical Indian consumers have no Internet access or a high end mobile phone, they have a remarkable appetite for digital content. McKinsey Quarterly states that Indians consume an average of 4.5 hours of it daily across offline channels such as television, DVDs, and CDs while they use mobile phones predominantly for voice services. Here what one can expect is integration of various mobile phone services with the diverse means of digital entertainment. The mobile Internet could deliver the personalized entertainment that Indian consumers crave for. If this is achieved, McKinsey research forecasts that the total number of Internet users will increase to 450 million, by 2015. However realizing this integration of two services won’t be easy. The country faces lot of challenges like the cost and ease of access to Internet services, infrastructure development, and the availability of relevant and local-language content. There are quiet visible infrastructural issues in the country like electricity connections and road building. However, these challenges are less worrisome since the leap to mobile connectivity would allow India to sidestep some of them. There’s enough development in phones, networks, operating systems, and operator strategies to suggest that India is on track of resolving the challenge of affordable, easy Internet access. This ease of internet access would allow the mobile users to access the digital content that is available on internet. The recent trends show that the average price of smart phones is falling very rapidly nearing 6000 INR[iv] and also this is significantly very less than the cost of a personal computer. Moreover the mobile devices are also easy to operate as compared to personal computers, and the ability to access web sites with a single touch or a voice command is becoming a reality, this is very critical considering that there is high illiteracy rate in India. Mobile Internet usage has grown at a scorching pace and for several users, especially in the emerging markets; their first experience of the web is through a mobile phone and not a PC. One interesting thing to note here is also that Indian operators have started offering innovative rate plans for mobile data use. So we do have cheaper, easier data access offering on the cards.

Mobile operators are aggressively rolling out networks across the country, including the recent 3G auctions in which companies spent almost 50,968.37 Crore INR in acquiring telecommunications spectrum. 3G service provides features like wide-area wireless voice telephone, mobile Internet access, video calls and mobile TV, all in a mobile environment. The various network providers like Tata DoCoMo, Reliance Communications and Bharti Airtel have already launched their 3G services in various parts of the country and other operators like Vodafone and Idea are expected to launch 3G services very soon.

Hence finally to sum up Smartphone and better quality networks would obviously trigger and act as a catalyst in the mobile web experience. Higher usage of mobile internet would result in increased access of digital contents. The advent of 3G in the country will undoubtedly open up significant opportunities for data services. The challenge now would be for service providers to segment the market, understand usage trends, user preferences, identify the right opportunities, and create the right value proposition.


[i] Techkriti - is the annual Technical and Entrepreneurship festival of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

[ii] WLAN-Wireless local area network.

[iii] STD – Subscriber trunk dialling.

[iv] INR -Indian Rupee.

Harshad Nimje

Master in Business Administration(2010-2012)

IIT Kanpur

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2 Responses to “Media Revolution Triggered By Mobile Phones”

  1. jane Says:

    Mobile technology is certainly the next wave. We can do so much on them that it makes sense that we start moving many things we do in life onto it.

  2. kanika saroch Says:

    great article


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