Mobile VAS market to touch Rs 82 billion


    MUMBAI: The mobile value added services (VAS) market is expected to grow by over 65 per cent to touch Rs 82 billion (Rs 8,200 crore) by the end of this fiscal as compared to Rs 49.50 billion (Rs 4,950 crore) in the last fiscal. These estimates were provided by industry body Assocham.

    The Indian market is waiting for localised value added services, which can be beneficial for the Indian rural market. While inaugurating VAS India 2007, director for planning and new services Kuldeep Goyal said that, it was important for the VAS developers to develop applications in localised languages like Bhojpuri, Haryani and other Indian languages.” According to him, the VAS developers should also look towards towards landline phones also, as they too have a great potential for offering VAS.

    Telenity CEO Dilip Singh said that the industry is in a process of a changing the way we communicate at present. “Soon the mobile phone will not just carry you voice, but will also carry your location video and also enable you to see the person you would be talking too,” he added. The VAS industry is heading towards a situation where the ring tones of cell phones will change according to the change in subscribers location. “We are already heading towards shrinking a personal computer, which is cable of multitasking and will fit in our pockets,” he added.

    Bharat Exhibitions MD Sashidharan, who is the organizer VAS India 2007, said, “Operators are facing cutthroat competition and with the call rates in India being one of the cheapest in the world, the margins are very low. Therefore they are looking at VAS as the next wave for growth. It has become the flywheel of telecom growth and a large chunk of revenue for operators is likely to come from VAS services in the years to come.”

    As per the industry estimates, the Indian VAS industry, is estimated to grow from $ 27 billion to about $ 33 billion in the next three to four years time.

    According to the participants, the major hurdle being faced by the industry is the awareness of the benefits of the value added services. Almost all the experts and service providers who participated in the event emphasized the need for making people aware of the benefits of such value added services so that their use could grow. The major reason being the inability of the service provider to popularize these services effectively amongst its subscriber base.

    “It is important for the industry to show what these applications look like rather then just talk about. Many are still discovering what mobile could do for them. Service providers should look around their customer base to understand what they want instead of offering them what they have,” said Qualcomm India manager, mobile content and applications Rakesh Godhwani.

    Telegen director, sales and marketing Sunil Upadhyay said that for the first time the company has introduced colour SMS in India. “The colour SMS is new stream for the operators which in non GPRS depependent and is based of P2P SMS. However, the need of the hour is an awareness camapaging from the operators side,” he said.

    Idea Cellular CMO Pradeep Shrivastava foresaw mass participation in use of value added services. This would be huge opportunity for service providers to doubling their business. But they should also involve the retailers who across the country add up to 1.5 lakh. Ringtones alone offered huge potential for business.

    Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney described VAS as the next frontier in the mobile services business. Mobile entertainment, for instance, was at the core of VAS evolution in the world. The global mobile subscribers meant three billion screens that offered multiple opportunities. This would double in five years. Sawhney foresaw 3G already moving into 4G and what was described as triple play on mobile phone becoming multiple play on them. “Media, entertainment and telecom – their borders are blurring creating enormous creative opportunities for business,” he said.

    On the other hand, the mobile advertising is already a $ 10 billion industry in the US, though in India it stands at $ 20 million.

    Sawhney said, “There is lot of content that could be driven on the mobile using mobile and customized advertisement. Service providers should explore this rising opportunity.”

    The potential of mobile VAS could also be extended to other services like mobile search, content discovery, mobile payments, bite-sized entertainment, widets, mojets and gaming.