Cellphones to be business centres
Location-based services, mobile commerce, advanced email and social networking on mobile phones will emerge as popular value-added services this year while mobile music and gaming continue to grow at a robust pace, industry experts say.
The market size of such value added services, or VAS, in India is expected to rise to $5.6 billion (Rs 22,400 crore) by 2011, up three and half times from $1.6 billion (Rs 6,400 crore) last year, according technology consulting firm Gartner.
Other than SMS, music based services have so far been the most popular amongst users. "Music dominates the VAS category and is estimated to contribute at least one third of the total VAS revenue," said Madhusudan Gupta, Senior Research Analyst at Gartner.
Popular mobile music services include ring tones, music downloads and caller ring back tones — the ones you make someone hear when they call you.
"Location based services and m-commerce will this year be what music and gaming have been in the last couple of years," said Yatin Pahwa, head (New Product Development), Bharti Airtel said.
The company has plans to launch location-based services such as search, advertising and social networking by the end of the year and is already working with content partners such as Map My India and Yellow Pages for information such as maps and points of interest. Bharti Airtel had recently introduced a money transfer service that allows subscribers to transfer money to any other person within India.
"The emergent areas that will attract a lot of attention will be m-commerce, mobile advertising and social networking," said Pankaj Sethi, Vice President, Value Added Services, Tata Teleservices. Adding: "An overlay of user-generated content will emerge, to challenge traditional content revenues, while adding to data revenues". Tata Teleservices is set to launch social networking service JuiceCaster 6.0 in India that will allow users to publish content online straight from their mobile phones. The service, similar to popular networking hubs such as Orkut and Facebook, is available only in the US at present.
Even wallpapers and ring tones are up for modification to suit users. Indore-based content developer Astute Systems is working on editing applications that will enable users add their own pictures or text on wallpapers of celebrities, or add music to wallpaper slideshows. "We are working on ... content that will let users customise ring tones and wallpapers, and on location based applications," said Jay Kumar Jain, director, Astute Systems.