The Livewire blog creates the forum for Infosys, Communication Service Providers and Media and Entertainment Companies to discuss and share insights on the key industry challenges, opportunities, trends and solutions.

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January 22, 2014

Working Collaboratively

The world is moving into the age of Wikinomics and this means that tomorrow's world is all about mashups - which means collaborative working and not the Silo. Certain regulatory regimes in certain geographies are still following 20th century ideology that got unduly delayed and has now taken its rebirth; unfortunately, in the 21st Century when in-fact regulators around the world should be thinking along the 'mass collaboration' line and not going the silo way.
 
We firmly believe in 21 century motto should be 'Creating a futuristic collaborative communications world' and 'what not' environment for all consumers. A few regulatory dictates are just in direct conflict with the remit of what Collaboration is all about.  20th Century Separation ideologies versus 21st century Collaboration imperatives.

Continue reading "Working Collaboratively" »

August 29, 2012

Customer Experience and Measures of Growth

Last week I happened to attend the Oracle Partner Advisory Council Meet @ Bangalore and got to know about latest developments in the Oracle's solution portfolio for the communication industry segment. But more than understanding the nuances of packages, I was happy as my observations and analysis on the Market Trends was validated yet again. Some of the key observations are:

It is becoming increasingly clear that the new game is being played with new rules and the old game had its own old rules. The old game where we dealt with high prices and high subscriber growth rates has fundamentally shifted to the new game of low prices and low growth rates. The drivers for this fundamental shift have primarily been the hyper competition in the developed / key developing markets and saturation of traditional services.

As a consequence the hyper competition and saturation have brought the prices (margins) down, pushing the service providers to Innovate and launch new Products & Services. (Mushrooming of Over the Top Players (OTT) can also be seen as new players trying to provide services other than the traditional telephony, voice or SMS services). Since the prices are moving downwards and also there is a need to innovate in a given budget, the Service providers are therefore forced to focus on operational efficiency in order to justify the large investments required for innovation.

In relation to this, 'How do we perceive and measure Service provider's growth' is also undergoing a gradual change across the globe. The business metrics for measuring the growth for a service provider are becoming much more granular and stringent because of multiple factors. Market Analysts though can always segregate the measures of growth uniquely for developed and developing markets however it would be safe to comment that dimensions of growth have shifted from 'No: of Added Subscribers per month' to 'monthly ARPU' and now even to 'Monthly Revenue/Cost per activity' as more and more products and services are being innovated and launched.

In this era of hyper completion and saturation, since the network, product, and devices no longer create competitive advantage as every operator offers more or less the same proposition; Innovation and Customer Experience are the only differentiating factors for a Service Provider to augment their relationship with the customers. Therefore CE and Innovation are now being considered as the potential keys to solve this conundrum.

One of the distinguished speakers of Oracle's PAC conference also stated an interesting fact that more and more service providers are now creating a position for CXO (Customer Experience Officer, the letter 'X' is no longer a substitute to letters 'E', 'O', 'I', 'F' and 'T' but now has a unique identity of itself, as 'X' stands for 'Experience') thereby further strengthening the argument that Customer Experience is being monitored by the top management and is also seen as a revenue enabler.

If we carefully observe and analyze, the theme (impact) of Customer Experience transcends to multiple areas, for instance Product Lifecycle Management, BSS and also to OSS. If in the PLM space we can comfortably say that correlation between the Product Experience and Customer Experience in increasingly becoming direct, the BSS/ OSS area is not too far as BSS and OSS vendors now have a greater need to justify and position their solutions as Revenue Enablers and not merely as solutions to reduce Service Provider's OPEX, increase efficiency and simplify the application landscape.

Customer Experience has also taken a firm positioning as one of the key domain in the business metric framework. The domain of CE and its associated value levers generally spans across the Acquisition, Retention and Efficiency subdomains. One of the key business metrics in Customer Experience domain is 'Increase in the Net Promoter Score' (NPS) which falls under the 'Retention' sub domain. NPS metric is becoming increasingly relevant at least in the developed markets. It can be as low as −100 (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody is a promoter). An NPS that is positive (i.e., higher than zero) is felt to be good, and an NPS of +50 is excellent. The CEOs and CXOs (Customer Experience Officer) are monitoring the increase in NPS every day and the target across the enterprise is to move the needle upwards.

In sync with this, additionally, TM Forum has also launched the business metric framework in which CE covers a large bit of attention. For details, refer to the link http://www.tmforum.org/browse.aspx?linkID=41856&docID=12759 .

Whatever said and done, old game or new game, the basics of economics and theory of evolution is still undisputed and will continue to be the same. That we need to 'adapt' and 'evolve' in order to survive.

 

June 1, 2012

A day at the Imagine Park... (wave your remote good-bye!)

This year the atmosphere was charged with energy at The Cable Show as the theme 'Cable. It's more than TV. It's how we connect.' was reflected in every facet of the 3-day show in Boston.

 

As participants we experienced more than the last few years, 'From Cloud to Screen - and everything in-between' from the giants like Fox/Disney/NBCUniversal/Comcast/TWC/COX to CableLabs/Cable.NeXt/ to Amdocs/NetCracker/CSGi/CVG to Imagine-App-Challenge/StartUp-Alley. Phew - that's quite a mouthful to say and I am not even including the smaller enterprises like Espial, Audible Magic,  NetTalk, WyPlay, FlixFling, Humax, Jinni, etc. who displayed great innovations.

 

Day1: The show kicked off on the 21st in a grand manner with Neil Smit (Comcast) and Philip Kent (TBS) talking about the consumer-driven environment and television anytime anywhere focus in the market.  Our Infosys team was so engaged in going through our Imagine Park demo live test trials and mock runs that we ended up missing the exciting flash mob and Cisco dancers on the first day. Our chat show was centered around showing the new TV User Experience concepts in multi-channel natural interfaces on old cable STBs leveraging iSymphonic based-OCAP applications integrated with MS Kinect controller developed by the CATS team in our Chennai Cable Labs. We ended the day making rounds of the exhibition floor and meeting existing appreciative customers where we found our own Infosys manning their booths and connecting with distinguished luminaries such as Paul Liao, President & CEO, CableLabs and Mark Bell, VP, NCTA.

 

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/infosys-to-demonstrate-next-generation-natural-user-interface-cable-tv-concepts-at-the-cable-shows-imagine-park-152517485.html

 

Day 2: The excitement was mounting as the adrenaline pumped into our bodies before our presentation on the stage at Imagine Park.  All of us were on the same page that we had to inject energy and represent the passion of Infoscions in our global live broadcast today. We had a lot of help from our Marketing team in getting the FLYPP video to be downloaded and played to make a higher impact with the audiences... the mood went up a notch and it did the trick. Our concept demo rocked and the interview/chat sessions with VideoNuze Editor, Will Richmond, went smoothly with Mit and I discussing the Infosys Customer Experience vision, trends and innovation labs around Cable/Video/Mobile with conviction to the audience. From the pictures and press coverage, you can make out that the crowd was pleased and we had many people from the likes of Rovi, Universal Remote Control, IHS Digest, etc. walking upto us and telling us that the concept was refreshing coming from an IT Consulting firm - asking for follow-ups as well on potential partnerships.

Later as we met prospects and existing customers, we were glad to see that everyone seemed to want to see the demo again and ask for follow-up meetings. We ended the day learning that more than a 1000 concurrent live broadcast watchers enjoyed our Imagine Park talks across the globe and NCTA was really glad that they invited us to contribute at the Cable Show.  A lot of folks had presented 'second screen' products or concepts like the work we do with Unwire in Europe, but no one had uniquely presented the innovative value proposition for today's consumers and Cable MSOs keeping Customer Experience and the 'More than TV - CONNECT' theme in mind.

 

Day 3:  The Imagine App Challenge (48 hour hackathon) was coming to an end and we met all the project teams from Rutgers, Stanford, Pace, MIT, etc. to meet the smart students and talk to them about their interesting innovations which were up for judging and awards on the last day. The idea I liked the most out of project TEEVE, MyBOOST and Green Energy was MyBoost as it focused on improving the consumer experience inside the home for VoIP,  Video and Gaming activities. Incidently the Stanford team won for the MyBoost idea!

 

The event was a smashing success in our mind as we improved visibility of the Infosys brand as an innovative cable domain expertise consulting company and got a bunch of accolades from existing customers and insight into the minds of new buyers at the show.

 

 [Video clip of our demo+chat show]

http://fora.tv/2012/05/22/Control_Freak_Natural_User_Interfaces_Find_The_Way_Home

 

http://2012.thecableshow.com/vod#ooid=MycTNyNDpIRiOZpfmNonnjcOimxwWtiB,lhM3JxNDp1ByXo8hK6cuGvzZ_oPNEe6J,VsYXFyNDoJshFmqrW1WRnIed7_6Q48K4

 

September 26, 2011

Application Rationalization or Modernization

What is Rationalization or Application Modernization?

Rationalize is an oft used word in mathematical parlance. And what it means is that it removes radicals (remember square roots 3, 5, etc in the denominators), such as from denominator, without changing the value (of an expression).

Mapping this definition from mathematical to Business application system context, we can say that Rationalization of Applications is nothing but the removal of specific parts in the application ecosystem which will make the ecosystem leaner and efficient, nevertheless, will not have any impact on the functionality delivered by it.

For IT Systems/Applications, what to rationalize?

In Mathematics, when we see a fraction, with say square root 3 in denominator, we know to Rationalize, it we have to multiply the fraction by the same radical. Unfortunately, this is not very easy when we try to map the analogy to IT Applications. So the question of what to rationalize can be answered by the business application designers by identifying the radicals in the system.

The rule of thumb should be that, if removing an application from the stack, keeps the functionality intact, then it is prudent to remove the application from the stack.

Evaluating an application for Rationalization:

The problem which large organizations face is that over a period of time, the number of IT applications reaches a stage or are so huge in number, it becomes difficult to calculate the utility of all the applications and the result is inefficient use of IT Applications.

But, how to evaluate an application for Rationalization?

These are the general guidelines:

-          The application is legacy.

-          The application is tactical, that is historically, and it was perceived to fulfill the tactical requirements of business.

-          The data elements in an application bear similarity with other applications, which covers more functionality. (This is an application which has more number of functionality compared to the application to be rationalized.)

-          The functionality provided by this application can be fulfilled by any other application with little impact.

-          The removal of this functionality from the stack, does not impact the business in anyway.

The success of rationalization will depend on this.

August 30, 2011

The future of TV is...there is no TV!

...there are just different screens.

Networks will be replaced by the Internet, and TV will just be another connected screen.

Video will just be a spade of the offerings, with gaming, social interactions, T-commerce, interactive adverts and convergence being at the forefront. That is when the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Google will compete with the cable guys - Time Warner, Comcast and Cablevision.

The importance of connected TVs to has already been stamped by Korean TV maker Samsung spending $70m on marketing its Internet TV apps in 2010. The magic has already started - with remotes controlling TV, and consumers able to play and watch content seamlessly across TV, PC and their smartphones and tablets. These emerging trends point to the increasing user demand to access content, services and entertainment from any location, any device, on the user's terms.

A growing numbers of television viewers are simultaneously online while watching television, most of them using a laptop or an Internet enabled smartphone. With the advent of social networks, this multitasking means that people are discussing the TV shows at the same time as they are watching them. These real-time conversations enable consumers to socially engage with TV programming even more. This holds enormous significance for service providers, as viewers can discuss shows via the TV set and influence each other's viewing. This interaction also enhances the whole lean-back-on-the-couch TV experience for viewers, as they can actively converse with each other, around any programming and content.

How social networks affect broadcasters:

Interaction with TV through social networking has enormous significance for broadcasters.Facebook 'Like's & comments and Twitter 'trending's influence TV ratings. The likes of Facebook and Twitter know in real-time how viewers are reacting to TV programmes. These social networks own valuable, detailed information about people's behavior, such as discussing TV shows and sharing links to videos. This futuristic vision of social viewing is one in which all major partners in the television industry ecosystem - IPTV, cable operators, satellite operators, middleware technology firms, device manufacturers, advertisers, broadcasters and studios - must build new relationships, negotiate new terms and resolve the next set of challenges in order to seize revenue opportunities.

Essentially, lifestyles are unfolding, and they are unfolding fast.

  • TVs are becoming much more than just entertainment devices and service providers must tap the trend to make the idiot box smart and intelligent
  • Consumers will readily inculcate apps to their TV viewing behavior after having experienced it on their mobiles
  • Service providers should not view app stores as new revenue channels but as retention tools that keep consumers engaged

So get ready to post your next status update, order a pizza, ask a Honda dealer to contact you, vote for your favorite character of that reality show and continue watching that favorite movie of yours on your mobile while you leave the couch to go out for a stroll in the park - all of these on your TV right there in the living room!

August 8, 2011

Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You - Applications on Your TV!

After over 60 years of color television, hundreds of channels (or is it thousands), innovations like HD and 3D we still can't seem to get enough TV.

"America's Love Affair with TV," Retrevo's awesome blog on TV viewing habits reveals that there are "more TVs than viewers to watch them."

The TV phenomenon isn't confined to the US, of course - the world loves its television entertainment and loves the simplicity of the user interface. Don't like what's on? Switch from the ever-increasing array of channels. Up and down. Child's play.

So why hasn't the Internet happened to television yet? Why aren't most of us online on our TVs, tweeting or texting or chatting?

Well, for one, convergence has been slow in coming, despite rosy predictions of the past. Technically it's feasible now at price points we couldn't have imagined before, now that we have converged "pipes" running to most homes--communications networks that can carry video, voice, and data to our growing collection of shiny digital gizmos.

But perhaps more importantly, television is what's called a "lean-back experience," one where we can unabashedly cater to our likes and dislikes. Sit back. Relax. See what's on.

Recently we've been doing more. See what's next. Time-shift it. Get video on demand. See it on your mobile. Or favorite tablet.

There's more to come. Developers and innovators around the world are busy working on the next set of uber-cool applications and services that will work right on your TV set - or set top box. Giving you control - with the same ease of use - up, down, left and right buttons on the same remote control. These powerful new apps and services will bring the best of the Internet to your TV--but in a way that you don't have to re-learn your TV browsing experience completely. Not one or two but hundreds--(and soon thousands) of applications are being developed for every imaginable lifestyle need.  And yes, they are on their way to your living room in Kentucky and even (en français) in Paris.

You won't have to get off that comfortable couch either :) Stay tuned!

June 20, 2011

Telecom Future is in Rural Areas

At the beginning of May 11, the penetration level of mobile connection stands at 111% in urban areas and with cut throat competition in voice and reaching saturation in 2G data & high prices of 3G plans- the telecom operators are not looking at revenue from urban areas - rather they just want  to retain the existing subscribers.

The penetration level in rural area is only 23% and huge opportunities of revenue from services like selling and procurement information and support for farm commodities, educating farmer community on best practices, delivery of healthcare and education to remote village using mobile connections - has made all the telecom operators join the bandwagon by investing millions of dollars for building required infrastructure and ecosystem. Government is also not behind - SBI, the country's largest public sector bank, with the complete back up of RBI, is currently piloting two initiatives for financial inclusion that are based on the mobile platform - targeted at rural and semi-urban areas to tackle with infrastructure issues at remote rural areas - to enable farmers and villagers to enjoy benefits of banking using their mobiles.

Now the question arises that what kind of services will be successful in rural areas - definitely not the gaming and social networking sites J. With competitive voice plans - operators can focus on services focused on agriculture and healthcare followed by education - as these are the priorities of a villager. Information about the latest prices of commodities like seeds, pesticides, fertilizers at nearest mandies, real time whether forecast along with soil requirements and best optimized technique of irrigation and benefits of crop rotation depending on the farmer location. By providing accurate demand forecasting of different commodities and by comparing the availability of such commodities at national and local level and suggesting cultivating such commodities for maximum profits, will attract farmers for using such services. Health Care is an issue in rural areas - by providing them doctor over the phone at reasonable cost will help farmers to avoid travelling to near cities for sickness which can be taken care at doctor advise over the phone and will also get expert advice on which nearby hospital for curing the disease hence helping the villagers to avoid travelling to different hospitals. Health Insurance can also play pivotal role in providing health benefits in rural areas. Consumers are also looking for diverse vernacular content at affordable prices -- this would enable proliferation of 3G services across the country especially in rural and semi urban areas.

These services can be offered as an applications or IVR methods. IVR will be more successful if offered in local language as compared to apps or SMS based services as the literacy level is less in rural and semi-urban areas.

Telecom Operator should concentrate on providing value added services as per the local requirements in local language to tap the huge market pie. Its matter of time that operator will be making theirs road maps based on the rural market.

June 8, 2011

Social Media and CSPs

 

In one of the community discussion forums at one of the prominent telecom focused sites, there was an interesting discussion on whether the telcos/CSPs have missed the Social Media bus? The discussion revolved around the fact that the growth of social media will be dependent on Communications, increasingly mobile and especially in the developing countries. 

 

Successful serial entrepreneur, Nick Ogden suggests that telcos may have 'missed the boat' when compared to banking and payment verticals which are tapping the mobile market. Apart from a few of scattered initiatives at national level there is yet to be seen an industry-wide offering that includes the leading financial institutions and the telecoms industry as a whole.

 

Ogden also suggested that brands like Visa and MasterCard as international brands are instantly recognizable but that the telecoms industry does not have a universal brand or identity that matches them in terms of instant recognition as a payment method. Any hope of success would rely on partnerships with the credit card processors and their issuing banks, especially where NFC (Near Field Communications) devices are concerned.

 

News that Google has joined forces with Citi and MasterCard to embed NFC capability into the Android powered Nexus S handset must be disturbing for mobile operators. So essentially, the role of mobile operators is limited to providing backbone for communications.

 

The second offshoot of the discussion was the point of need for partnership with CSPs and that many had been using social media as a marketing weapon to attract subscribers by offering social media access free.

 

It make me wonder if telcos have not 'missed the boat' in both scenarios. What the 'partnerships' both the points suggest remains to be seen. CSPs wishing to promote their services on social media as a customer of any social media site will certainly be welcomed, but Social media company being willing to share its revenues with network operators because they provide the communications is highly unlikely.

 

One example of convergence which can be seen in Indian market which to an extent addresses this problem is the recent launch of a popular social media application by a software company headquartered in Bangalore by tying up with one of biggest CSP in India. The application was not a smartphone application. The application uses the same technology as sending SMS and hence the status updates on the social media site happens using this technology. For using this application, the subscriber doesn't need a smartphone (please note the smartphone penetration in India is very less) and would be charged Rs X per day by the CSP. This is an excellent model of tying up with Social media companies and leveraging the viral nature of the medium for newer channels of revenues. This calls for deep collaboration with system integrators, CSPs and Social Media companies. 

May 25, 2011

Synchronization of Consumer Touch Points for a FM Station

A FM station can establish a one-on-one connect with its listeners through the following four mediums:

1.     Enabling the FM Broadcast: listener's action of tuning into the frequency of the radio station on their FM receiver enables them to establish a contact with the radio station. It is the primary and the most important connect, the raison d etre of the FM station. The maximum marketing dollars of the FM station are spent on enabling this transaction.

 2.    Social Media: To establish an online connect more and more service providers are joining the social media bandwagon with sign off lines as find us on...or follow us on...thus enabling the station to capture the voice of their listeners. Listening to conversations in the social media space can enable the FM stations to align the programming lineup to match the expectation of their listeners.

3.     Website of the Radio Station: I have seldom come across a FM Station's website that is dynamic and vibrant. Most of the stations have websites that are more like digital diaries. When I say it's a digital diary, it means non interactive and static information like RJ profiles, broad overview of programming, film promos (this is something new these days) etc. There are very few stations that mention their website URL on-air.

4.     On Ground Events: These are based on specific themes, festivals or are tied to a social cause. Such events not only reinforce the brand to the existing listeners but also bring in new listeners who may sample the station, post their positive experiences from the event.

Serial nos. 2, 3 and 4 can be classified as the secondary touch points or supplementary to the primary offering and are reinforcement to serial no.1.

Serial nos. 2, 3 and 4 are nimble and can be modified with minor changes to suit the preferences of a wider audience base. For such touch points the station has a better control on the conversations happening around its brand and is in a position to own or drive such conversations.

The broad components that make up a radio station and its distinct identity are:

1.      Programming Line Up

2.      RJ Chatter and the fact that over a period of time RJ's name becomes synonymous with the name of the FM station

3.      Interstitials

4.      Interactive interstitials that connect the listener to the RJ

5.      Advertisements and brand integrations

Orchestrating listener's experience across the components with all the touch points that are exposed to the listener, will create a highly successful offering.

India has approx. 800 million mobile phone users as compared to 80 million online users, thus it is imperative for a radio station to own the user experience for the mobile device and make it pivotal to drive a synchronous user experience across other different touch points.

Some of the radio industry honchos believe that 50% of FM listenership happens over the mobile phone. Perhaps the experience should be taken beyond the mere act of listening to a particular FM station on mobile. To maintain listener loyalty and a high brand recall, a mobile application should provide:

1.       Information about FM station.

2.       Information on Radio Jockeys.

3.       A means to connect with Radio Jockeys.

4.       An archive of interstitials and other library content.

5.       Celebrity videos, a day into the life of RJ, how does a radio station look like etc.

6.       Traffic updates/utility information.

7.       Information on the current programs/songs meta-data and programs/songs that are coming up next.

8.       A contest zone.

9.       Linkages to the social media. The application should allow the listener to give thumbs up or thumbs down, on their social media/station's social media page, to a specific program they are listening on the radio.

10.    Interactivity. The listener should be able to respond to RJ cues in real time using the mobile application. E.g. responding to RJ's cue of what is listener's opinion about single parents? etc.

Please note that here I have not made any reference to providing streaming music. This involves an additional payout of royalties by the radio station to the music labels and therefore may hamper the commercial viability of providing such an application to listeners.

The above list is not exhaustive and can have additional elements to the above basic stack as subsequent upgrades or versions.

On first glance the stack appears as a thing similar to visual radio. However, in my opinion visual radio in India comes across as commerce based application that enables the users of visual radio to buy digital merchandise like song ringtones/wallpapers/song dedication to a friend etc. I see it more as a Value Added Services (VAS) offering by the telecom operator to boost their VAS revenue. How the existing visual radio application helps in driving user loyalty and experience, I am unable to comprehend. I still don't see it as a mobile application that helps build the listener community dedicated to the radio station it represents.

However the basic stack that I have outlined can be monetized by the radio station in the following manner:

1.      Have sections/tabs of the mobile application sponsored by specific brands.

2.      Song meta data can have additional information like "Catch this movie on Channel XYZ, coming Sunday at 12 Noon". The same property can be sold to the TV channel.

Well, the above are a couple of examples that can help the station gain currency with advertisers.

Since the mobile application outlined here is not tied to any commerce transactions based upon music merchandise, it can be made available on the cloud and the user can download the same by entering a URL on their phone browser irrespective of the telecom operator. This helps the station to keep a track of how many people have downloaded the application and from which regions. By transposing the application download/usage metrics data with Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) data, the station gets to know the number of active and engaged listeners versus passive listeners. This also helps the station in validating the RAM data to a certain extent.

I strongly believe that this is the way to go. Irrespective of the geographical footprint of the station, such a mobile application helps the station to own and orchestrate the listener experience. If the same can be made available in languages other than English, it will be a killer app!

Well that's the end of this bulletin. If you found this post interesting, and if you have time, please drop a line..!!!


May 24, 2011

Paid Mobile Applications - SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

Do you think Mobile App Stores have a direct impact on the sale of smart phones? Do users choose smart phones based on the apps they want to use or buy?  Yesterday, I was reading an interesting article on free apps versus paid apps. The findings were based on the US market. With over more than 50% apps free, Android tops the chart followed by Palm, Apple, BlackBerry, Windows and finally Nokia. I believe higher free apps ratio facilitate an increased sale of Smartphones.
 
India being the fastest growing mobile market, it would be interesting to see how those top mobile applications stores position themselves to tap this market with huge potential. Having said that, what do you think would be the future of paid applications in the Indian market? An average Indian subscriber with less than 2$ in his/her prepaid account (Average Monthly Spend) would definitely hesitate to make a payment to purchase an application. That's one side of the story.
 
One of my friends, who has been a fanatical user of iPhone since 2008, represents the elite upper class of Smartphone customers in India. I was surprised that he never downloaded any paid application all these years. There are few points I would like to highlight from our discussion.

- He was attracted to iPhone primarily because of the Appstore
- There is no reason for not downloading paid apps. He just doesn't feel like paying for apps. He might consider paying after use
- Hesitant about using credit cards on mobile

The word 'free' attracts more people in India, even if they have to pay it later. I believe free apps with ads is going to be the future of mobile apps industry in India. In one of the leading App stores in India, I have seen download rates for one of its top free apps drop around 95% percent overnight when the developer started charging INR 10 for it !

Mobile advertising has the potential to exceed internet advertising.  I had attended the Mobile Camp organized by Mobile Monday in IIM, Bangalore on Feb 6th. The session conducted by the Google representatives on Admob indicated that they are well equipped to make the most out of this huge opportunity.

Ad supported free apps will work well, if relevant ads are placed in the least annoying way for the users.

May 5, 2011

The Mobile OS marathon: Is there only one winner?

With the mobile app store industry achieving a 3.8 Billion business in 2011, (According to  the IHS iSuppli report released yesterday, May 3 ,2011) the leading OS makers are running a sprint in the marathon.


Apple is definitely the leader owing to the innovation they bring to their devices and services. There is always a tremendous excitement and obsession around its product launches.  In my opinion, it will definitely have a good share of the MOS market, but not the largest.  The reason it being a closed environment and the OS limited to its own products.


With six major releases of the platform in a short span of time, and the fragmentation issue that is existent, I am still optimistic about Android and believe that it will dominate the Smartphone market in the next 4-5 years. The battle is between Open OS & Proprietary OS.

 

The results of a market survey by Distimo recently show that: "If all application stores maintain their current growth pace, approximately five months from now (July 2011) Google Android Market will be the largest store in terms of number of applications followed by the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, BlackBerry App World and Nokia Ovi Store," the firm said in its findings. "The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will also be larger than the Nokia Ovi Store and BlackBerry App World prior to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace being available for even a full year." Source


As a long-time satisfied user of Windows Smartphone, I cannot close eyes to the evergreen Windows OS.  This is not a reference to any of the extremely significant features of Windows Mobile, but just the comfort of having the same OS for my laptop as well as my Smartphone. I could sync it flawlessly with my laptop to manage all the important files and contacts. If Windows can uphold its dominant desktop market share, Microsoft will be able to leverage that to grip a strong position in the mobile space.

Continue reading "The Mobile OS marathon: Is there only one winner?" »

April 29, 2011

In-app billing - new revenue stream for developers

In-app billing seems to be the hottest thing since then developers are looking at other revenue stream other than ads. In-app billing is billing from within the application you are using on your mobile device. In- app purchase gets triggered when an application enables you to play or listen or view something (such as a game download) on your mobile for a period of time or until you reach a certain threshold when you have to buy the full version. It is a kind of a 'try before you buy' scheme.  Some examples of In-app purchases are buying virtual goods, currencies, additional game levels , subscriptions to digital magazines or newsletters.

As consumers, most of us try and then buy clothes. This is the very similar concept in in-app billing. Heard about Farmville? There are millions of consumers who were farming their virtual farms for long days and nights. The developer Zynga had an in-app billing concept to ensure the consumers stickiness. The advantage to the developer is the consumer had already tasted the pinch of the product and it would drag the consumers to buy in the full version.
What is more crucial to the developer is where to have the in-app billing in place. It can be in
 
Content - Digital content which can be delivered within the application
Functionality - unlock additional functionality within the application. For instance, game levels can be unlocked by in-app purchase.
Subscriptions - Subscription renewals to content or services.

Even though in-app billing can be a new revenue stream for developers, it has its own grey areas. The IAP (In-app Purchase) might have a simple Interface, however consumer has to learn on how to send text, click a buy button, etc to invoke IAP. The real challenge for the developers is when they build a simple interface to show the description or any status messages, they had to look for right place for it in their applications. The positioning of the IAP matters the most to make the IAP app successful.

Letting users download an app for free and pay later through an in-app purchase of additional content has proved successful in other app store like Apple who started the in-app purchase model  in October 2009.In my opinion, it will be a significant revenue generator for developers using the App Store.Sooner we will be seeing more developers get into this concept of monetization. Where to stand in future is a complete choice of developers!

January 11, 2011

Mobile Malls - Digital Destinations of the (not too distant) Future

If there's one irresistible force of globalization it must be the growing swell of shopping malls. As consumers in the emerging world take wing, bigger and shinier is seen as better. With many of the world's largest malls now opening for business in China, India, Malaysia and elsewhere, we are witnessing a "malling of the world" at an unprecedented scale. Teen hangout or shopping mecca, multiplex haven or anchor store-ville, malls mean different things to different people--yet with an astonishing sameness around the world. Like them or dislike them, malls with their in-your-face consumerism and frustrating staggered escalators are here to stay.

Mash up the mall phenomenon and the mobile device (phone or pad of your choosing) with applications, brands, and even merchandise and some really interesting possibilities begin to emerge. Just as physical mall operators provide real estate, HVAC and utilities to retailers and brands who set up shop, mobile malls will offer brands and retailers the ability to reach out to consumers, create their own branded retailing zones, and offer a safe and secure shopping experience to consumers.

And who knows, this may even turn out to be the teen hangout of the future, where social applications converge on brands, each vying for the attentions of their target digital consumer.

Far fetched, you say? Not *that* far. Many of the business models and technology platforms are already in place. What we're talking about are new ways of assembling ecosystems around user behaviors, devices and services. App store today, mobile mall with brand zones tomorrow.

December 14, 2009

Mobile Application Marketplaces - Where are we headed?

Smart phone market share is growing faster than ever before. Since iPhone was introduced, there has been a sudden surge in Smart phone adoption. Every Smart Phone maker is now trying to compete with Apple’s iPhone and it’s App Store. Mobile Application Stores, though not a new concept, kicked off with renewed vigor since the introduction of Apple’s App store which has already seen 2 billion downloads just a little more than a year since launch.

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December 12, 2009

Creating a differentiated experience - Key to App Store Success

The Application Marketplace phenomenon has spread like wild fire since the introduction of Apple’s App Store. Since then, it has caught the attention of almost every OEM and Operator who has launched (or in the process of launching) App Marketplaces. All the App Stores, together, now have hundreds of thousands of Apps developed by thousands of developers.

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