Not long ago, the very idea of a remote rural citizen — be it a farmer or a worker — sporting a mobile phone was a novelty. Things have come a long way now, with companies offering innovative, empowering content products aimed at revolutionising the countryside.
Reuters Media Light (RML) is one of the many such innovations recognised by the Digital Empowerment Foundation’s mBillionth Mobile for Masses awards given this month to encourage those taking mobile technologies to the masses.
Amit Mehra, RML’s MD, says expansion into areas where people do not own mobiles and are illiterate is critical.
The country’s mobile industry has expanded dizzily over the past decade, from Rs. 100 crore to Rs. 15,000 crore in revenues and the handset now has 650 million connections in India.
RML, launched in 2007, provides customized local information to farmers who can pick from crop prices, an advisory service and weather forecasts. It has covered over 200,000 farmers and 15,000 villages in 10 states. From SMS, it has branched out into voice-based updates to improve penetration.
OnMobile, a mobile tech firm, has its M search service that uses multilingual voice recognition software to process music requests. It now receives 30 million hits a month.
“Mobile is usually their first device. They have no other source of entertainment,” said Ravi Yadav, account manager.