Content Will Be The Key Differentiator Among Mobile Operators

Updated: Mar 17 2004, 05:30am hrs
Mobile Technologies, a Kolkata-based software company, is working on Java and Symbian-based mobile applications. Recently, the company developed a live cricket scroller for Airtel. Mr Amit Lakhmani, the chief executive officer, spoke to eFE on the future of MMS-based applications for the next generation mobile network and the impact of these applications on the mobile business in the country.

What is the future of value-added services in the Indian market
The future is completely moving towards broadband services with Java-based applications forming the core of the multimedia service (MMS) content. This will basically enable the mobile consumers to experience interactive content on his mobile phone. In coming months, Enhanced Data Rate for Global Evolution (EDGE)-based applications are going to come which will be interactive and live streaming audio and video content.

From seeing a trailor of a Hollywoods latest release to a MP3 music downloaded from the Internet, the consumers mobile experience are set to change fast.

More so, in business applications where sales people can have Java-based applications on their mobile phone which are going to be connected to the backend ERP systems. These can be integrated with the sale order module or be able to check the complete inventory position before taking order from the dealers.

Kindly elaborate on one interesting service that will have all the imprints of MMS
Take the case of location-based service. So whenever we are passing through any location, there will be information on our mobile like what is happening in the nearest theatre of that location or the discount sale in a shopping mall situated near the road the user is driving. Location-based information will help a mobile subscriber to get instant information on important things happening near the location.

What does all this mean to an Indian software company which is in the business of providing software to a mobile operator
The software companies working in the application development for the mobile phone companies will get more opportunity to develop software that will help them to position themselves differently vis-a-vis their competitors.

Ultimately, it is the content of the applications that will create the difference. And the responsibility of the software and content creation will be with the software companies. So the developers should not only get the flexibility in terms of designing the software but at the same time will get the chance to test their innovative ideas.

At present, we are very limited in offering our services because of bandwidth limitation. This will go once EDGE is implemented across the networks of the operators. In the coming months, the software will be one of the key differentiators for the operators. With the coming up of high speed delivery mechanism, mobile communications will be able to deliver information in a converged environment where mobile handsets will be able to talk with other communication devices like a PC or handheld device. It is a tremendous opportunity for software companies to serve the needs of the operators.

What are the popular platforms on which the future mobile applications will be developed
Right now, there are two platforms available to develop mobile applications - Java and Symbian. Microsoft is also trying to make its presence felt in the market with its own smart phones. Already, the smart phones are available in the European market and are becoming popular. With the arrival of these gadgets, Microsoft will start pushing its .Net platform in the mobile segment.

We are working mostly on Java platform although we have started developing small applications on Symbian. Some of the camera phones like Nokia 7650 or 3650 are Symbian-based. But majority of the phones available in the Indian market are Java-based.

At present in India, no body is focusing on developing software on Microsoft platform. But once the Microsoft smart phones are in India, I am sure the developers will look at the platform. The J2ME-based software applications are deployed on the operators server. If any subscriber wants to use the application, the software has to be downloaded to the mobile phone and it gets installed once and for all. It is like installing a software on a PC.

How will EDGE alter the mobile application space and what wil be the impact of new delivery mechanism on mobile business
The content will be the key differentiator among mobile operators which will decide which operator will stay and who will be out of the business. Services which will meet the needs of the users will bring revenue and augment the bottom and top line growth. Along with content, the important aspect of the business will be the way it is delivered to the users. The delivery should take care of factors like ease of use, simplicity and convenience of the applications. In two years time, we will see the MMS services becoming cheaper compared to the present tariff level and at the same time, the services will be much richer and innovative in nature. There will be a new kind of revenue model where subscription-based model will replace the present day transaction-based tariff.