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India Digital Summit: On Mobile Internet – Growth, Driving Transactions, Platforms & More

Where will the growth come from?

Neeraj Roy, Managing Director and CEO of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment: 5-6 key segments which will drive consumption: Entertainment has always been a key driver of media, but I don’t think it will stop there. Education and tablets will be a big driver. I believe we will find healthcare, and commerce; the economy could be in the range of $5-6 billion just in terms of price.

Umesh Kulkarni,  Founder of Eterno Infotech,  Newshunt: Mobile Internet users are crossing desktop subscribers. This is just 10%. A large part of the growth will be non-urban. The Mobile Internet is bringing new users. These two things, coupled together, and vernacular content will be a key demand, which will drive the mobile Internet. There are lots of ecosystem changes happening.

Jonathan Bill, SVP Business Development and Innovation at Vodafone India: NewsHunt is the best example of a vernacular product.
Vishal Maheshwari, Senior Director & Head of Sales, Yahoo India : Some of the things that have worked for Yahoo India-  Being device agnostic, shortcuts are a walk off a steep cliff, being use case specific, speed, cost of access, personalization via data and platforms. one size does not fill all, serendipitous discovery for content consumption. Strategic partnerships with telecom operators, the chipset (we have a deal with Mediatek, which helps take care of discovery on the device). Training has to be conducted for the editorial staff, who are used to formatting content for larger screens. Personalization is key because the mobile still faces a challenge for discovery of content. When you’re talking of vernacular language, the person may not be very smooth, but using data and platforms you can figure out what kind of transactions he is likely to do.

We definitely think that video, music and seamless streaming is going to be a big play. Platform personalization and comprehending user data is going to be key. Telcos have a huge amount of knowledge about their customers. Right now we’re playing the audience game, but we’ll have to shift to a monetization game.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & Managing Director, One97 Communications: Android will be what Java and Flash used to be for their domains. A billion activations is a small number for Android, because more activations happen without android. Android is not open and not free. Not making money on mobile is a sin, making less money is lesser sin, making a lot of money the way Apple does is the right way. You who have started businesses will have an equal chance, because in the mobile Internet space, experience is an anti-dote.

Is Mobile Not Just the Internet?
Neeraj: mobility, in a market like India, has just enhanced it. It doesn’t intimidate as a device. There will be more and more smarter devices. We haven’t even seen the impact of that. All of this, will be enabled on the back of Internet anywhere. When you transition from 2G to 4G, when you start looking at the inefficiencies of execution, the kind of material impact it can make in that is extremely efficient.

Vijay: the Mobile is not linearly connected to the Internet. On Mobile, you have Whatsapp, and Hike, while on the Internet, you used to have Google talk. Only the branding can be carried from the bigger media, when you land here. Expedia, Makemytrip has been the traditional OTA leader, but on mobile, there’s Kayak. It’s is a reset opportunity. These are not just a wannabe or a first entrant. From Flickr to Instagram.

Vishal: Mobile is a disruptive opportunity for a web 1.0 or 2.0 to catch up. People who are succeeding on the Mobile Internet are those who got it right on the web.

Jonathan: What about monetization? We have continuously not succeeded to find. Why is there a market for mobile advertising businesses that is different from online advertising?

Anil Mathews, Founder & CEO, Adnear: Mobile had engagement options, like click to call, or click to route. The gap in spending is narrowing: companies are creating a market for mobile advertising.

Umesh: the device makes a difference. For advertisers, there is a possibility for instant gratification. With the set of users coming in, with the mobile Internet spreading, there is an opportunity for FMCG advertisers to reach markets. It’s an enabling factor, it has always been with the person who is using it.

On Transactions

Jonathan: what about transactions?
Neeraj: The device is extremely relevant. There’s a study, that because you always have a device, you are acting, and there are brands like ford advertising on tv, there are competitors of Ford who are advertising on mobile to flank that. In some markets, yields of mobile advertising are 1/5th of the Internet. In markets like ours, I would caution that yields would go down. Why are businesses like these emerging? If you see lunescape, you’ll see the complexity of the advertising world.

VSS: Traditionally, India has seen mobile advertising platform. I believe that OTT players will drive more transactions than telecom operators, and credit cards will drive transactions. They generate their own demand. OTT are agnostic of app stores. We charge consumers directly. App stores will try and grab these transactions, and there will be larger blue ocean opportunities.

Mobile platforms

Jonathan: The number of smartphones is still small, but do you need everybody to have an Android to make things work?
Umesh: there’s a large variety of handsets there, 6000 handsets, across OSs. The interesting thing is, if you look at Jan 2012 vs Jan 2013, the mix is changing. Android is replacing the handsets that Symbian is losing. The game will be about constant adaptation. The pattern is changing, but there is still no one player.

Jonathan: Collaboration: How do we make the market bigger? I don’t see ISPs beyond 2001 in making any place in collaborating. Device Manufacturers were not a part of the value chain? Or is that a red herring?

Neeraj: What will it take to kickstart this in a big way? If India is really serious about jumping ahead is, what if Wifi were to be made free across a significant large aggregated establishments like schools and colleges? It can be done in a manner whereby in the next rollout of spectrum, you make that a part of every ISP.

Umesh: These are purpose driven apps. The biggest problem in yesteryear’s was about distribution. The situation has changed a lot with app stores from device manufacturers. You’ll find app stores being put together by college grads.

Vishal: There’s a need to get friction out of the way. The discussion about OTTs and ISPs. there are people good at the pipe and those who are good a plumbing. The Internet runs on personalization. It’s not a question of my data or your data, but data pooled together to make sense for users. The synergy is needed.

Game Changers?
Vishal: When it comes to India, Inmobi is on the top spot. When it comes to companies in doing mobile monetization in India, there are global companies. Google remains there. Google and Samsung, and when it comes to startups, I would put companies like Dhingana, and  Hungama. We might have entered last, but the queue will start from here.

Neeraj: Google, Facebook. One action by one nation, resulted in half a trullion economy, and that one action was by China. That said, the process was wrong, the approach wasn’t something we will ever relate to,but it was about building on their own. There is still not a single company in India which is a billion dollar company. Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba are over 200 billion. A lot of this has been driven by the fact that there was a deep rooted ambition. The first 200 million customers don’t have too much of an issue. I hope there will be companies driven by innovation. There’s an opportuntity in education, payments and healthcare.

Jonathan: 200 million before long, and there’s hard to find examples of Indian businesses doing well. Why is that? Why is nobody there?
VSS: We have English as first 100 million users, so there is no language border. The second is a country, that is far more democratic than we need to be. If we have the right to education, and no one gets educated, it doesn’t help anyone. If there was a right of WiFi, it might not result in everyone getting educated.
Vishal: The success of the nation is data personalization.

Zubin (audience): 350 million Internet enabled devices, only around 20% utilization. What will it take?
VSS: That’s the agenda of Yahoo and Google
Jonathan: It’s not that bad. If you’re looking at arguable devices, you’re looking at 250 million, and nearly a 100 million users, which is equivalent for many markets. Relevancy of content is the last missing link.

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