'India is now a hot market for mobiles'

Nov 08 2010, 01:00 IST
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SummaryMobile value added services market is the most under utilised cashcow in the Indian telecom operators’ stable. But enter 3G/WiMAX and it would be a big ‘wow’ in m-commerce, says Vinod Vasudevan, Group CEO, Netherlands-based mobile marketing solutions firm Flytxt, busy on a hiring spree in its Indian base.

Mobile value added services (VAS) market is the most under utilised cashcow in the Indian telecom operators’ stable. But enter 3G/WiMAX and it would be a big ‘wow’ in m-commerce, says Vinod Vasudevan, Group CEO, Netherlands-based mobile marketing solutions firm Flytxt, busy on a hiring spree in its Indian base. Its facility in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram is buzzing with the sales activity of the Dutch firm, fanning out its nascent markets in South Africa, Middle East and Latin America. Flytxt is funded by global venture capital giants like Clifton Holdings, IVC Venture Capital AG and Jetzthaus Grundstuecksverwaltungs GmbH. “Cellular operators in India will have to supplement their stagnant voice revenues. 3G would be their opportunity window. Ringtones and wallpapers are not the only form of mobile entertainment—more music, games, jokes, cricket, social networking and other infotainment will soon bring the best out of the VAS market,” says Vasudevan in a free-wheeling chat with M Sarita Varma. Excerpts:

What is the flavour of change for the mobile user in India in the next couple of years, now that 3G is on the way?

The 3G rollout will popularise the excitement of internet user experience on the mobile phone in India. This will significantly benefit the adoption of m-commerce.

We should also look forward to the dot band in LTE (long term evolution) stream. Used with voice-over IP, it will give full bandwidth to iPad, tablets or products like Kindle. This could trigger an education sector revolution.

Near-field communications (NFC) may catch up faster. Mobile couponing has growth potential. Being portable and popular mobile phone will soon turn out to be favoured payment channel. At the same time, regulators and other stakeholders will have to come together to sort out security issues and network challenges.

What would be in it for the VAS market? Would the mobile firms be stumped by agony of too many choices?

The Rs 75,000-crore VAS market in India is now a hot dynamic mobile market. Mobile subscriber base is still growing at a rate of 8 million per month. New players are entering the fray. Competition for customer wallet share is hotting up. At present, in India, the mobile operator’s driving income is person-to-person (P2P) messaging. From 10% of total revenues of telecom operators, this is estimated to grow to 40% within three years.

Cellular operators in India will have to supplement their stagnant voice revenues. 3G and LTE would be their

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