Mobile City

Samir Karande

"Unprecedented Mobile Opportunities in India "

Samir Karande
Founder & CEO
MobiPrimo Technologies
Samir has more than 15 years of product development and outsourcing experience. Earlier at Persistent Systems, Samir managed operations for the Telecom Business unit with more than 1,000 people working across globe. Then, he incubated Mobile & Wireless Business unit which he grew to 300 people in couple of years as head of the business unit. Prior to Persistent Systems, Samir helped Comverse in defining award winning mobile messaging platform, deployed with multiple tier-1 carriers across the world.

He has been active in multiple standards bodies and helped define multiple RFCs and standards at W3C and IETF committees. Prior to Comverse, Samir helped Lernout & Hauspie, a world leader in speech products, in defining and launching next-generation natural language processing (NLP) product suite. Samir holds Bachelors degree in Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering from India and Masters Degree in Computer Science from Boston University.

Globally we have seen a few large opportunities in last couple of decades. DOT.COM was one of most talked about opportunity in late nineties where quite a few successful technology companies were made (eBay, Amazon etc). DOT.COM was in the early period of internet generation and was a phenomenon for a few hundred million users. Indian market was relatively unaffected by DOT.COM because of lower PC, internet penetration in the country at that time.

During last decade Web 2.0 was the next big opportunity wave where again quite a few successful technology companies established themselves (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc). This model was significantly different and improvised over the DOT.COM era where the responsibility of content creation was transferred from the technology provider to the end users. The new term user generated content was coined and proved to be very apt. The widespread of Web 2.0 was phenomenal with staggering numbers. 5 billion contents created/shared per week on Facebook, 230 million tweets per day on Twitter, 3 billion views of YouTube videos per day. Web 2.0 wave then expanded to include mobile user base with the term Mobile 2.0 where user generated content could be published and accessed from mobiles. Indian consumers participated in this opportunity in much more significant manner compared to the DOT.COM era, thanks to you wider adoption of broadband internet and mobile internet.

The next big opportunity is just around the corner. Globally mobile users (5 billion) have surpassed PC users by handsome margin. In India, mobile subscribers are far more than PC, Television or even news paper circulation. This provides the unprecedented opportunity that is much bigger than DOT.COM and Web 2.0 opportunities.

Lets looks at the opportunity size from Indian Context:
  • Mobile subscribers: 900 million (9x more than PC users)
  • Mobile internet subscribers: 150 million (12x more than broadband internet users)
  • Mobile internet subscription growth: 233% CAGR (23x higher rate than broadband internet users)
  • Smart phone adoption is all time high, thanks to lower price point Android phones : 300%+ CAGR
  • GPRS/EDGE/3G is available in small sachet without any monthly billing commitment
The size of opportunity is unquestionable, but the opportunity comes with its own challenges and some nuances. The product offering that could service consumers by overcoming these challenges will definitely be a winner and I am sure, there is enough room for multiple winners given the size of opportunity.
Challenges from Indian context:
  • Most of the mobile internet users are students or early 20s age group
  • Only 4% of mobile internet users are at age 35 or higher
  • Almost of half of mobile internet users do not have credit card or bank account
  • Lack of choice for payment collection mechanism
  • Vernacular support
  • Addressing non-internet mobile users
In the recent past, a handful of Indian companies have started working on these challenges especially addressing the un-banked user segments by providing mobile commerce platforms. Just over 18 months ago RBI has also regularized mobile commerce; and has defined a framework for such services.

At this time, consumer focused mobile products and services have a huge market opportunity and relatively very little competition. The current demography of the mobile internet users demands more consumer oriented applications on mobile that are specifically made for Indian context and requirements in multiple industry domains (social, entertainment, religion, cricket and so on). Mobile health products/services have a huge demand, although its unorganized segment right now, but larger corporate groups setting up hospital chains is creating the needed infrastructure in this segment.

Mobile internet users lack the richness and larger form factor which is prevalent in PC/Tablet segment, providing larger form factor to such mobile only users at relatively lower price point is another huge opportunity area. Over next few years, the current Indian mobile internet users (in teenage or in early twenties today) will need the enterprise mobile applications.

Stay tuned as I will be elaborating on certain opportunity areas in next upcoming articles.

More articles to follow:

  • Mobile Commerce
  • Consumer Applications
  • Social Mobile Applications
  • Cloud based Mobile Applications
  • Enterprise Mobility