IAMAI Mobile VAS 2008
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) hosted a day-long seminar on mobile value-added services (VAS) last Tuesday. The event saw participation from developers, operators, content providers, media buying agencies, advertisers and mobile-Web enthusiasts.
According to industry projections, the VAS component of an operator’s monthly customer billing—also called ARPU or average revenue per user—is expected to grow from 7% at present to 18% by 2010. The event highlighted some key trends and challenges the industry will face while growing at this pace.
Educating consumers and profiling subscribers emerged as key factors important for success. A panelist, lamenting the negative experiences first-time GPRS (general packet radio service) users have while setting up the connection, asked, “Why can’t VAS be taught in schools?”
On the issue of skewed revenue share between phone firms and VAS players, the role of retail outlets to distribute mobile applications was highlighted as one way of bypassing agreements favouring the operator, especially in the non-metros. Songs and ring tones are distributed through memory cards or activated through Bluetooth connections at such outlets. But, the lack of standardization in delivery platforms on mobile phones and networks remains a concern.
On the content side, content created specifically for mobile phones can be a differentiator, compared with TV content that is today re-purposed or configured for such phones. On pricing, a price point of Re1 emerged as a favourite with the participants. As a panelist said, “The fastest way of popularizing content is to make it FREE!”
S.R. Raja is a telecom versatilist, entrepreneur and consultant. He currently consults with Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd.