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Future of Indian M-VAS Industry

According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the number of mobile subscribers in the country crossed the 228 million mark in December 2007. Given the increase in the reach of this medium the possibilities open to the burgeoning M-VAS (mobile value added service) industry appear almost limitless.

With consumerism on the rise, innovation and discovery are the two keywords that are driving the growth of the M-VAS sector in India. The M-VAS players today are constantly churning out newer concepts and services to create a differentiation factor and contribute to better consumer experience. Today, M-VAS services are largely entertainment-led with Cricket, Bollywood, and Astrology being the top categories for applications and download in the country. However, the Indian mobile market is on a threshold of a more mature stage, and the road ahead looks even more promising.

The year 2008 itself is being heralded as a significant one for the industry with VAS revenue predictions estimated to reach Rs 4,600 crore by the end of the current fiscal from Rs 2,800 crore in 2006-07, according to Assocham. But revenues are not the only encouraging factor that is fuelling the enthusiasm of this industry.

Going ahead, Content, Platform and Exhibition are the key factors that will mould the existing structure of the industry, causing players to converge and consolidate their operations and resources in order to survive and thrive.

Mobile Advertising / Mobile Marketing

Mobile advertising is an area that will see promising times ahead. Leading convergent players like Mauj, are already serving across operator decks.

While the current scenario for mobile advertising in the country lacks a much-needed push, interesting concepts like AdverGaming are fast gaining significance. AdverGaming is an attractive option to meet the objectives of both the brand and the service provider keeping the consumer in focus. With games continuing for hours together, consumers also tend to interact with the brand for a longer period, generating a higher brand recall which gets even better with a more addictive game-play.

Every brand is trying to break through the clutter in the mind of the consumers and hence mobile marketing is another aspect that will see greater acceptance in the times to come. Mauj has worked with brands like Tourism of Ireland to create mobile properties aimed at a specific target audience, with a specific message in mind. Mobile marketing tends to provide brand messages with a far more reaching impact, given the ‘dearness’ factor of the medium and the suitability of the audience.

3G Technology

The future for the M-VAS space is looking at applications and services developed around UGC (user generated content), LBS (location based services), high-end segmentation, and enterprise applications; transforming the mobile phone into a more informational and transactional device.

The much-anticipated 3G will undoubtedly provide the impetus required to boost this medium with services like mobile TV, full-motion videos, wireless teleconferencing, multi-player online games, and m-commerce gaining popularity and facilitating a wider portfolio of VAS to mobile users.

Increased data connectivity will also increase the consumption of content on mobile, expanding the market for content companies to reach out to the customers situated in the remotest parts of the country.

Mobile Music

Music as a revenue generator for the M-VAS space will continue to see encouraging times. Entertainment and telecommunications are the two important industries that converge to form this burgeoning sector. Each of these worlds in India is at present faced with immense opportunity, and that translates into an even bigger prospect for the mobile music space in particular.

Better accessibility and a penetration rate of around 18 per cent have helped mobile music surpass online music sales in India. Today, online music makes up less than five per cent of the digital market in India, while mobile music covers the rest.

The industry is awaiting its share of changes that will come its way in the years ahead. The coming years will witness trends that are bound to change the entire M-VAS game, offering opportunities that will need to be capitalized on. In times like these, only players with the ability to scale, and the expertise required to converge services, will be able to survive and thrive in this highly competitive and burgeoning M-VAS space.

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