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Brew my cuppa

Call it a boom or a reverse shift, India today is the 2nd largest investor in London, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

business Updated: May 17, 2006 18:45 IST

A platform of opportunities

Last week in my column "The mobile entertainment story" I had mentioned about significant business opportunities for content providers in this booming telecom market and about India being earmarked by telecom majors as a significant hub for development. This week here is something more on the opportunities available to content providers.

The changing market

The Indian wireless market is booming. The biggest companies are in it now. Mobile phones have penetrated down to the grass roots levels. In this dynamically changing market, consumers are increasingly expecting more from their devices. Which in turn is creating a demand for new services, applications, and better voice and data capabilities to better suit the consumer's needs in this converged wireless-Internet world.

An environment for development

There are several applications development environments, Symbian, J2ME (JAVA), Python Flash Lite, Net Compact, BREW, Qtopia to name a few. Of these JAVA is preferred for its all-around solution with low entry barriers while BREW rules the CDMA market.

A tale of two platforms

From the commercial point of view the development of mobile applications is primarily based on two platforms, Java or Brew. Java, a product of Sun Microsystems has been fairly ubiquitous in cell phones. On the other hand BREW, Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, is a creation of Qualcomm, and of late has been gaining ground with the developers.

The Java versus Brew debate

If numbers indicate winners then Java has a clear lead over Brew. According to a report by Research and Markets (researchandmarkets). Current and expected future carrier, and OEM support will insure that Java sustains its leadership position. US sales of devices that support BREW are expected to grow from 23 million in 2004 to 38 million in 2009 whereas annual sales of Java-capable handsets will grow from 39 million to 63 million in the same period.

BREW is mostly used in US and Japan. Even in the US, the market share for J2ME phones is bigger.

The Brew advantage for India

Overall J2ME (JAVA) is a superb platform with a huge cost saving incentive, as it almost has no entry and testing costs; but numbers and openness don't always mean commercial viability. That's where the BREW advantage comes in. The ideal situation for an application developer is to recover his costs and get a decent return on his investment. The BREW Ecosystem does exactly that.

The BREW Ecosystem consists of Marketone, UIone and Deliveryone. From an entrepreneurial point of view the BREW Ecosystem ensures the commercial viability of an enterprise by getting a return on investment on the development costs.

Worth mentioning is Marketone, a platform between the service provider and content developer. Marketone is a hosted, open, and scalable content service that gives operators and other wireless service providers as well as media, entertainment, and game companies fast access to a broad mobile content marketplace together with a best-of-breed hosted content delivery framework. It's a quick-to-market, turnkey solution for operators desiring a robust solution with the cost efficiencies of a managed service.

Other noteworthy factors in support of BREW are:

-The biggest telecom service provider Reliance is CDMA based, which means an opportunity for BREW application developers.

-Qualcomm, promoter of CDMA networks, had highlighted India as a future hub for mobile development on its BREW platform last year. Using the BREW ecosystem this means a content development company here in India has potential buyers across the globe.

Call it a boom or a reverse shift, India today is the 2nd largest investor in London. (guess-who-is-londons-2nd-biggest ). Maybe in the next few years' people in Tokyo would be downloading and playing mobile games developed in Haldwani.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and editswww.thebusinessedition.comyou can email him on puneet@cyberzest.com

First Published: May 10, 2006 21:42 IST