“VAS Industry Needs Capital Infusion; There Are Bright Ideas That Need Nurturing”

The updates of the day two of Infor-Media‘s two-day Value Added Services Conference which ended in Mumbai on Tuesday, continue…By our contributor Prashant Sethi.
Pankaj Mahendroo, National President, Indian Cellular Association
ICA was founded in 2001 to fuel the growth of the mobile industry. In 2001 there were about 400,000 handsets that were imported and over 90 per cent of these were smuggled or belonged to the gray market. From this point on, with the efforts of ICA, the mobile market has grown to 32 million in three years and 90 per cent of the industry has become legal. Adding to this we also feel proud of the fact that in a very short span of time we would have 10 per cent share in the mobile handset design market, internationally, also our mobile component industry is also scaling upwards.
VAS is fast becoming a serious industry and we need to focus on trade commerce and business applications. Cutting across all businesses, the needs of the business segment are similar and we have to think of ways as to how can mobility deliver values to this sector. Hardcore business applications will create a robust industry which will help generate revenue and lay down a strong foundation.
One of the major problems that we face today is poor quality of network, this leads to a lot of call drops. GSM operators have to first consolidate the traffic on their network and provide their customer base with dedicated bandwidth as about 4-4 -½ million customers are added monthly and the current spectrum is not enough.
As the VAS industry is growing, it has to face some challenges, the first being capital for the VAS industry. There are a lot of small companies with great ideas who lack manpower. We have to make sure that bright ideas do not get snuffed out. As of now the industry is fragmented and does not have enough capital to back ventures. Secondly the VAS industry has to reach out to the customers; forums have to be created for interaction with customers. ICA would like to extend their infrastructural bases and network to the VAS industry on this platform today.
Content has largely been created for mass audience or to say the metro audience. For it’s growth it has to reach out to regional languages in content. Meaningful content has to be developed for localized customers (smaller cities). Here we also have to think about the ability of handsets to support regional languages. We also have been primarily working with English language; efforts have not been made to translate content into other languages. Previously, response has been encouraging.

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