The Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) held on Thursday in Bengaluru — its second season in India — discussed the challenges surrounding the mobile-first and app-only approach of tech-start-ups, focusing mainly on mobile commerce and the problems with app infrastructure in India.
Technology entrepreneurs like Sachin Bansal, InMobi Co-founder Naveen Tewari and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma talked about the perils of going mobile-only and how mobile-first approach is important for the ecosystem. Sachin Bansal, co-founder, Flipkart, a proponent of mobile-first strategy, said mobile transactions will change every consumer’s behaviour in all sectors.
On the never-ending scepticism of Myntra’s app-only move, which Flipkart acquired last year, Sachin Bansal said, “We have been talking about it for a few years. Earlier it was just a belief and not a fact. But now we have data to back that. The consumer is not going to tell us what the next innovation will be. It’s our responsibility to innovate on behalf of customers. We know what users want by seeing their behaviour.”
India’s mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic in 2012 itself, Bansal added.
However, Naveen Tewari said, “The challenge is whether we can move as fast as the world is moving… the app ecosystem in India is pathetic. If you are a leader in your space, it’s good. Unless the space problem in phones is solved, consumers are not going to stick to apps only.”
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar showed his support to the power of mobile and the business it will help to grow. He said, “If someone tells me a next big idea and if it’s not on mobile, it probably isn’t a next big idea.”
Talking about if there will be just one winner or the market can accommodate multiple big winners, Bansal said it will be disappointing if there is only one winner. “We will need multiple companies, to push each other, to bring innovation,” he said.
Tewari pointed to the dismal state of internet connectivity and speed in India, which he said is the major problem for tech-companies in India.
“The internet eco-system should be such that users should not pay for internet connection, content or anything that is basic. Access to internet and content should be free for users which can get accommodated by advertisements,” Tewari said.
Freecharge Founder and CEO Kunal Shah, however, said, “Free internet is not the solution, but being able to provide seamless connectivity is the solution. We have realised people don’t transact online on-the-go,” Shah said.