The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) organized the mobile innovation conference at Mumbai on August 8, 2012. The conference intended to take a look at the top future trends that might shape the mobile industry in India. Notes from some of the sessions at the conference:

– On mobile internet: Neeraj Roy, Managing director and Chief Executive Officer, Hungama Digital Media, said that the Indian telecom market will make a shift from 2G to 4G bypassing 3G altogether. He said that currently, 40 percent mobiles in the market were internet capable, but not necessarily activated.

– Himanshu Kapania, Manahing Director, Idea Cellular and Chairman COAI, in his talk on ‘Service beyond voice and SMS’ suggested that the telecom business will grow to Rs 200,000 crore in next 4 years. He said that currently, around Rs 20,000 crore worth business in telecom industry, comes from non-voice services. To experience growth in revenues, users need to be made aware of benefits of accessing internet on mobile, and for that, telecom operators need to provide better quality network, he said.

As for Idea cellular, he informed that 39% users on the network use SMS and that it was similar for other operators as well. Contradicting Neeraj Roy’s comments, Himanshu Kapania suggested that India was not going to jump from 2G to 4G. “India will take normal transition from 2G to 3G to 4G.” He also suggested that to know how India was progressing in the market, they should just follow the market in China and not the US.

– Viral Shah, representing UIDAI, talked about enabling payments with Aadhar card. He mentioned that currently 20 crore Aadhar cards have been issued and that quite a few number of people have given their mobile numbers while registration. He said that the UIDAI will also launch a service so that people can update their mobile numbers on the database. Shah mentioned that UIDAI wanted to come up with an electronic KYC system to make it easier and cost-effective for the customers. He also mentioned that, with aadhar cards they could come up with a prepaid payment system and that UIDAI was currently looking for mCommerce and eCommerce partners.

Interesting numbers from the UIDAI: Out of the 20 crore aadhar cards issued 20% come from urban population. Almost 90% of Delhi state has been issued Aadhar cards, while 40-50% of Mumbai, 20-50% of Bangalore (wide range here) have been issued aadhar cards. Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal, Punjab states have significant number of population that have been issued aadhar card.

– On mEntertainment : The panel was moderated by Samir Bangara, Managing Director – Digital, DisneyUTV. Samir Bangara started the discussion pointing to the problem of too many players in the market and of there being no real consolidation. He also suggested that, currently, the mobile entertainment ecosystem was completely dependent on music. For growth, players need to integrate the social ecosystem into their services, he felt.

– Narayanan SP, Senior Vice President & Head VAS, Idea Cellular, suggested that since the cost of voice services was coming down day-by-day, and the next telecom growth was going to come from VAS. For that, players needed to come up with innovative ideas and new products. In India, data users were still in single digit and many users were not using data connection to full strength.

– Badri Sanjeevni, Chief Executive Officer – Mauj Mobile, commented that currently the industry faces the problem of lack of monetization. Although it was possible to gain 50 million uniques in India, it was not possible to monetize those numbers and that the industry needs to solve the same. He also said that the VAS industry currently requires more innovation and only then the acceptance level will rise.

– While Abhijit Saxena, Founder & Chief Executive office, Mobilox suggested that content industry was a driving force to the entertainment business for VAS.

– Salman Hussain, Vice President – BD & MD – India & Middle East, Vuclip, was of the opinion that India was still a feature phone market. To succeed in the Indian market, industry players needed to concentrate on lower segment. He also talked on how to keep users engaged – earlier 80% of the traffic on Vuclips used to come from search, however, now 60-65% comes from social sharing. Players needed to identify such phenomenon and create content/services to attract users. As weird as it may sound, Hussain suggested that SMS still drives the sharing ecosystem and that people share videos on SMS.

– On mEngagement – Jonathan Bill, Senior Vice President and Business Development, Vodafone India, started with the fact that many services were forced on customers which they actually didn’t need. The industry needed to figure out how not to push services on to customers. He also suggested that engagement with the customers should be all the time and not just when a company runs a campaign. Apart from that, acquisition of customers from a campaign was not engagement. To engage with customers, companies also need to create a brand, he said.

– Debasis Chatterji, Chief Executive Officer, NetXcell was of the opinion that understanding the service and customer was important. “Ultimate thing is customer service”, he said.

– Raj Singh, Managing Director, TechMobia, suggested that companies need to figure out a way to deliver content in a very informal way.

– Anisha Singh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mydala.com, suggested that it was important that only relative content be displayed to the user as the user is now very savvy and does not like unrelated content pushed on to them. Apart from that, she suggested that companies needed to build engagement programs which brings back the customers.

– Sameer Agarwal, CMO Rocketalk, reiterated that telecom operators do not need to push services to users, if one needs the service they would search for it.