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‘Mobile ecosystem at tipping point’

india Updated: Jan 16, 2011 20:24 IST
Anita Sharan

Neeraj Roy, managing director and CEO, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, is already talking 3G and 4G purposefully. His vision has made Hungama one of the front-runners in digital entertainment. For the fourth consecutive year, he has been selected by the Mobile Entertainment Magazine, UK, in the top 50 global executives list in the mobile content industry. In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, he talks about why he believes the mobile platform will change the way we connect with others and how we access entertainment.

How do you view the development in the mobile entertainment and connectivity space?
The mobile ecosystem is at the tipping point of an unprecedented wave of transformation. Mobile devices, especially cellular phones, have emerged as the most-preferred channels for entertainment and the industry as a whole is poised to give the end-consumer a more refined experience in service delivery. Analysts believe that in three-four years, there will be 10 billion connected devices globally. On an average, each person will use three devices on the move.

Where does India feature in this picture?
This can be viewed at two levels: one, it’s all about connectivity; and two, it’s all about device. In terms of device, India has access to devices that are as connected as the global level. Technically, even a year before the 3G launch, people already had 3G-enabled devices in India. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the next three-four months we will see five-seven inch tablets in the market at $150. Samsung has already launched its tablet; HP has launched its application-rich DreamScreen at R19,900. Connectivity has been the single-biggest challenge, but broadband rollouts are happening. The government is also proactive about enabling broadband access across India. India was not part of the global ecosystem till 3G was announced. Today, it is a part of that ecosystem.

How much can a mobile phone, practically, be used for entertainment?
It’s not about a mobile phone or a tablet, but about connected devices. It’s going to be about a screen, wirelessly connected to the World Wide Web (www). Cars will be connected; you will be able to run content on different devices, something not envisaged so far. At Hungama, we are working with 67 device manufacturers currently.

Do you believe the pace of adoption on the mobile platform will be quick in India?
Five years ago, we communicated through emails. In the last two-three years, it’s been all about social networking. Now it’s all about speed and access, leading to new forms of content. Yes, the pace of adoption will be fast. Content carriers will have pressure to build and work around digital content. I really believe that this year and the decade will be significant for the adoption of technology and new media. The indications are already there. Look at the pace at which Indian youth is adopting the Internet. Side-by-side, Facebook is no longer restricted to youth. With the emergence of Indian brands in mobile phones, I had estimated that 40-50% of the handsets would be Internet-capable. In reality, 95% of these phones are Internet capable.

Will we see existing content being adapted for digital use?
The first adoption of any media is through entertainment. The first phase of the digital ecosystem development will be in adapting existing content and bringing in interactive features to that. The next phase will be about specific content to best leverage the digital ecosystem. The Internet is about empowerment of a different nature. We will be chasing consumerism of a different order. You can imagine the possibilities in being able to reach 350 million — and increasing from there — consumers through the Internet.