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India as a Mobile first nation

India as a Mobile first nation

21 Dec, 2016

In the vibrant landscape of India’s digital evolution, the mobile economy stands as a driving force, transforming the nation into a ‘Mobile-First’ society. With nearly 45% of the country’s 1.3 Bn population connected via mobile, India is witnessing an unprecedented surge in mobile users and businesses offering services through this ubiquitous platform.

a. Changing Consumer Behavior

Over the past two years, consumer behavior has undergone a significant transformation, with a staggering 85% of mobile Internet users accessing the Internet exclusively through their mobile phones. A noteworthy 49% increase in users’ time spent on mobile Internet has resulted in a remarkable 113% surge in mobile usage and online spending. Crucially, a substantial portion of these users, approximately 80%, earns less than INR 5 Lakhs, emphasizing the mobile’s utility and indispensability in their lives.

b. Content & Service Providers Leading the Way

Content and service providers, along with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), play pivotal roles in shaping India’s mobile economy. These entities are adapting to the unique challenges posed by a majority of Indians still relying on 2G mobile Internet. To address this, they are developing lightweight applications that function in offline mode, providing them a user-friendly experience. Additionally, mobile OEMs are aligning their offerings with the specific needs of Indian consumers, introducing low-cost smartphones, devices with extended battery life, and support for regional languages.

c. Standardization of Mobile OS

The standardization of mobile operating systems (OS) has emerged as a key driver for both content and hardware development. Unlike the earlier days of Mobile Value-Added Services (MVAS), where developers had to create services for each mobile manufacturer, open-source platforms like Android have significantly lowered development costs and encouraged innovation. This has paved the way for a diverse range of content and services available across various smartphones, irrespective of the telecom service provider.

d. Government Initiatives for Mobile Penetration

Both central and state governments are actively working towards increasing mobile penetration across the nation. The central government’s ‘Mobile Seva App Store’ provides citizens access to 69% unique apps, fostering a digitally connected populace. Additionally, policy measures, such as introducing panic buttons in mobile handsets, mandating Indic language support, and enabling GPS, aim to be implemented in all new mobile handsets within the next 1-2 years. Initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ further focus on expanding broadband connectivity and establishing India as a manufacturing hub for mobile phones.

e. Call for a Refreshed Regulatory Approach

While the mobile economy flourishes, there is a growing need for a fresh and light-touch regulatory approach. The adoption of archaic policies could impede growth; for instance, applying old economy rules to the mobile sector, such as requiring licenses for business operations, could stifle innovation. To ensure the sustained growth of this nascent industry, regulatory measures should be crafted with the understanding that the mobile economy thrives on start-ups. Initiatives such as easing business setup norms, avoiding mandates for India-specific mobile products, and ensuring that regulatory measures align with the start-up culture can foster a conducive environment for continued growth.

India’s journey towards becoming a Mobile-First nation is marked by unprecedented opportunities and challenges. As consumer behavior evolves, and content and service providers innovate to meet the demands of a diverse user base, the government’s role in shaping a conducive regulatory environment becomes crucial. Striking the right balance between promoting innovation and ensuring responsible growth will be instrumental in harnessing the full potential of India’s mobile economy. As the nation embraces this digital revolution, it is imperative to maintain a light-touch regulatory approach that has been instrumental in fostering the remarkable growth witnessed thus far.


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