Mobile VAS subscribers in India – Insights/Prediction

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[Guest article contributed by Vital Analytics, Bangalore based market research firm focused on telecom space.]

Invention of cellular technologies and its evolution is the biggest boon to mankind. Telecommunication industry is growing at a rapid rate. There are 3.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, out of which ~ 375 million  mobile subscribers are Indian. Over 350 billion text messages are exchanged across the world every month.
Ever since cellular world came into existence, there has been continuous innovation around cellular services. Today, mobile phones have moved beyond their primary role of voice communications and have graduated to become an essential entertaining device for mobile users.     We are in an era where users purchase mobile phones not just to be in touch with people, but use it to express their thoughts, for social networking, to show their interests, send photos, download images, play games, read news, surf on the Internet, listen to music, chat instantly with friends & families and even check their bank balances. Thanks to new and  innovative services been offered by Mobile VAS providers on continuous basis.

What is Mobile VAS?

Mobile value-added services (m-VAS) is the ability for cellular operators and service providers to charge a premium price for the services (beyond voice conversation) they offer to their subscribers (mobile users). Some of the services include: SMS (text messages), MMS (multimedia messages) , USSD (interactive menu based services) ,CRBT (caller ring back tone), video streaming , mobile advertisements, participation in polls and contests, location based services, mCommerce (financial transactions), Instant messaging, Infotainment services (news, weather reports, songs, recipes ), content downloads (wallpapers, screen savers, games, ring tones), down loadable mobile applications.

These are just a few of them which one can imagine at immediate contemplation. List is inexhaustible based on handset compatibilities and customer demands.

Mobile VAS statistics based on demographic and geographic

Early 2009, survey was conducted for mobile users based on various demographics (gender, age, education, income ). Mobile users are spread across all parts of India. Take a  look at the summary (statistical reports) of the survey results of two popular services in Mobile VAS: Internet usage and SMS (Voting for TV contests).

Mobile Vas in India - Statistics and Trends
Mobile Vas in India - Statistics and Trends
  • Almost 63 million urban Indians accessed Internet using their phone in February, 2009.
  • Checking emails and searching  information using search engines are the two most popular reason cited by almost 3 in 4 urban Indians.
  • 16 million urban Indians access Internet on their phone almost on a daily basis.

Another report discussed here is ‘SMS voting for TV contests’. Voting in reality TV shows is the most popular contest type urban Indians participate in by sending SMS to preserved short code. 45 million urban Indians mentioned voting in reality TV shows, the most popular SMS contest/vote type followed by voting in news polls (31.64 million).

mobile vas in India - gaming works
mobile vas in India - gaming works

Based on many other surveys conducted on various topics, it is noticed that Mobile VAS including services such as music, playing games, surfing Internet for reading news, sports, stocks are more popular amongst men, where as women prefer using their mobile phones for checking emails, downloading ringtones,wallpapers, browsing Internet through search engines for food services. It is the younger group .i.e. between 20-25 age group of mobile users who like downloading games and ringtones most.

Regular surveys and market research provide service providers, insight about the group of mobile users to target before launching any campaign.

Prediction of mobile VAS in India

Mobile interconnected industries are every day coming up with fresh and ground – breaking mobile technologies. Mobile VAS accounts to 10-12% of the total telecom revenues. Over 375 million mobile subscribers in India, out of which 8-10% of the total mobile subscribers are expected to be GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) subscribers as well.
At present CRBT download and SMS (A2P) mobile VAS seems most popular amongst mobile users. With the launch of 3G services (faster data speed) in India, games download, video streaming, mCommerce, mobile blogs and mobile chat is expected to grow in future. As per TRAI predictions, mobile VAS revenue growth contributing to telecommunication industry is expected to grow to 30% in next 5-7 years, which is way beyond the current contribution of 10-12%. Many experts are predicting mobile VAS in India to be 1 billion USD market by 2010. Let us wait to watch, what is there for Mobile VAS service providers in 2010.

Do you agree with the above finding? Share your opinion.

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