Mobile apps is where the opportunity lies | SupportBiz

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Mobile apps is where the opportunity lies

The Internet and mobile are hot areas for Indian entrepreneurs. In an interaction with SupportBiz, Dr. Subho Ray, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) highlighted some key trends in the two segments.

Edited excerpts:

The Internet and mobile industries are considered to be among the most dynamic industries of India. According to you what are the key trends that you are witnessing in this segment?

Continuing previous years’ trends, the young Indian population continue to account for the maximum internet users in the country with about 70 percent of all active Internet users in urban India.

Email and social networking are the most popular purposes of Internet access and are the main triggers for bringing people on this platform. The future of Indian mobile internet usage is promising with the introduction of 3G spectrum and increasing usage of mobile applications. In sum, Internet growth in India promises to increase greatly with the increasing influence of mobile apps, introduction of 3G services, availability of better mobile phones and a rising mobile subscriber base.

The mobile apps market is the fastest growing segment especially apps that integrate with television, in-car navigation and entertainment, shopping, commerce and banking. Consumer apps with a good user base are doing well in ad-based models. Also popular are social networking apps which enable sending and receiving messages, creating closed user groups, uploading pictures, audio and video content and updating personal statuses from handsets. Mobile phones have the potential to become a primary Internet access point, in the foreseeable future.  However, it is to be seen whether this would take away the usage of the PC in accessing Internet or both could co-exist.

Social media is a hyped commodity in today's scenario. What relevance does it carry for Indian SMEs? From the perspective of SMEs, what must be the ideal expectation from social media?

The social media is yet to be embraced by small and medium enterprises. This is despite the fact that the social media is considered an effective tool for engaging customers in innovative ways and making them stakeholders in the value-creation process. Social media is still in its early stage in India and it will take some time for Indian companies to take to it. Creating awareness of the uses of social media is the biggest challenge.

Regulations are influencing this segment extensively. What is the industry's opinion on the growing grip of regulatory agencies on mobile and internet industry? 

We represent a vast majority of Internet companies. We are completely opposed to ITU’s jurisdiction in any area related to Internet policy. Cyber security is essentially a state prerogative and should not be part of an external treaty obligation.

What are the key demands from the industry in order to make the industry more motivating for start-ups and SMEs? 

IAMAI is delighted to see that the government is recognizing the value of, and supports the increased usage of e-commerce to aid in the growth and development of local businesses.

E-Commerce is also an action packed area for the Indian start-up community. But it has its own challenges like logistics outreach, payment penetration, among others. From the industry's perspective, what are the key actions that are expected from government agencies? 

While Internet penetration is still low in India, the government is building infrastructure to improve and enable connectivity in metropolitan and rural areas. There are government restrictions that keep non-local players from offering local payment solutions. The government should provide a legal framework for e-commerce so that while domestic and international traders are allowed to expand their horizons, basic rights such as privacy, intellectual property, prevention of fraud, consumer protection etc are all taken care of.

Please share some statistics related to the penetration of Internet in India. How is this trend moving forward?

As of June 2012, there were 137 million claimed internet users in India, growing 16 per cent over last year. Of this, 99 million users are from urban India and 38 million from the rural parts of the country. This number is estimated to grow up to 150 million (105 million in urban and 45 million in rural areas by December 2012. Now users are moving towards advanced applications of the internet like net commerce.