‘I am providing Mobile Games for download completely free of cost on my site – would I face resistance from you as an operator?’ was a question directed at Mr. Harit Nagpal (Marketing Director, Hutch) by a representative of HovR at yesterday’s edition of Mobile Monday (Mumbai).
The answer was a blunt – YES.
Mr Nagpal added that if Hutch was ultimately losing possible revenue then of course they would definitely ban a user from downloading free content. Mr. Anil Pande (Product Development, Reliance Communications) agreed and dutifully nodded.
Arvind Rao (CEO, OnMobile) was in complete support of the operators too – since they spend such a large amount of money on licensing and infrastructure.
There was even a funny analogy which was brought up about the Railways investing a massive amount of money in infrastructure and therefore they can charge a consumer as much as they want for a Churchgate – Virar ticket! Is that really true?
Personally I feel, Local Search is going to drive Mobile ‘data’ usage in the coming few years and with it would open up the massive opportunity of Search based Mobile Advertising. But ultimately these services (Like Google, Guruji, OnYoMo, JustDial, Burrp) would make money and not the operators – so would the operators ban these services too?
Operators make a considerable amount of money from Ringtone and Wallpaper downloads, they do not promote GPRS usage because they know that – Ringtones and Wallpaper can all be downloaded for free via the net. The amount the operators would make for GPRS usage would be peanuts as compared to a Rs 25 ringtone download.
How long will all this continue? A maximum of another 2 years? India’s GSM base should hit 300 million by then and then it would take just one operator to open up and the others would be forced to follow suit?
Perhaps GPRS rates would be hiked to some enormous levels!
These are some figures of GPRS usage from the May edition of MoMo (Mumbai):
121.4 million GSM users.
50-60 million of these 121.4 million GSM users have data capable phones.
10-15 million of these users actually know what is GPRS and have at some point used their phone to access data.
2-3 million of these have used it more than once and use it predominantly to download wallpapers, ringtones etc.
0.2 million of these use GPRS to regularly access Email and other services on their mobiles and can be termed as active users of GPRS.
The IAMAI report on mobile in India, did not include a single statistic on GPRS usage.
While there are apps which allow free Emailing facilities on your phone –
BPL still manages to command clients who pay more than 200 Rs/month for this service!
Well shifting focus to the scope of Mobile Advertising – A lot of innovative methods of non-intrusive ad serving methods are being worked on.
OnMobile is working on a rather interesting feature – Voice Ads on Caller back tunes! We’ll try to get more details on that soon.
Another cool bit of Mobile Advertising work by OnMobile was combat marketing – when a user was downloading a monophonic ringtone, they gave him the option of downloading the poly-phonic one. Of course at a higher cost! But it worked a lot (40-50% success rate I think).
Well Mobile Advertising definitely has huge potential, be it via GPRS, Voice, SMS, VAS etc and we will definitely be tracking the evolution at WATblog.
Please feel free to share your views with us.