India set for mobile shift

13 June 2011

NEW DELHI: Consumers in India are adopting increasingly diverse habits on their mobile phones, Deloitte has argued.

The consultancy surveyed 2,028 adults in the country, and reported wireless devices are moving beyond simply being used for voice calls, becoming "infotainment" channels instead.

"While the computer and internet empowered urban India, it is the mobile which is bridging the digital divide and making it the perfect medium for delivering a variety of services and content," the study said.

It estimated traffic levels could expand 300 times over by 2025, while, in the short term, the worth of value-added services might hit $4bn in 2013.

The poll found that 80% of subscribers had been exposed to advertising on their phone, and 36% of this group took some form of positive action in response.

Surging smartphone penetration should stimulate greater interest among brand owners, as 87% of consumers now possessing an iPhone or similar device browse the web through these gadgets.

"Though not significant, the response to mobile adverts is encouraging," Deloitte said.

"The seemingly unstoppable rise of smartphones is allowing mobile adverts to become even more visually compelling."

Elsewhere, 57% of contributors that had previously switched network provider did so because of the poor coverage by their existing operator.

Moreover, 74% would happily move between companies if their current provider failed to supply 3G access, a field where India's infrastructure capabilities are improving rapidly.

Exactly 67% of the sample expressed a preference for pre-paid options rather than contracts when discussing the various models for the 3G category.

Some 30% of interviewees also expressed a desire to combine packages from different operators, such as holding a voice tariff with one firm and data plans with another.

The impetus towards "dual SIM" handsets among telecoms manufacturers at present may facilitate these arrangements, Deloitte predicted.

"Consumers will be inclined to choose a connectivity provider which best meet their evolving requirements, regardless of the underlying technology," it said.

A related trend identified by Deloitte was a willingness to pay a price premium if this guaranteed consistent coverage and high-speed connections.

When naming the types of media they would be interested in consuming via a 3G phone, live television, the internet, email and music downloads all scored well.

Video calls and entertainment, news, sport and current affairs content also performed strongly on this measure.

Achieving differentiation in such markets is increasingly important as competition intensifies in sectors now yielding 80% of value-added revenue, like game-based apps, or music or ringtone downloads.

Rolling out material in numerous languages is an extra priority, realistically demanding at least ten variations to reach less developed areas.

Teledensity in rural regions still stood at just 33% by the close of March 2011, indicating considerable future potential for growth.

The primary benefits of mobile services for people in the Indian countryside cover a range of individual needs and situations, Deloitte suggested.

"Use of mobile phones has created new opportunities to make a living, to be more productive and hence earn more, for migrants from rural areas to the cities," the study said.

In concluding, the report forecast services linked to governance, commerce, health and education could prove profitable segments to explore, especially if they are targeted and offer personalisation.

Nokia, for example, has spearheaded the Life Tools initiative, using the mobile channel to distribute practical information and entertainment to farmers, and has announced a new "mobile money" platform.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff