Ringing in the mobile convergence era

Ringing in the mobile convergence era

Author | Esha Madhavan | Friday, Jun 20,2008 8:38 AM

Ringing in the mobile convergence era

Mobile handsets have not only metamorphosed from the huge briefcase size devices of the 1980s to the ultra slim avatars, but have also moved beyond being mere devices to make and receive calls. With more and more features and technologies being added mobile handsets are on the way to be a single device serving the purpose of a phone, camera, MP3 player, GPS, game console, television and a lot more.

India has been the largest emerging mobile handset market in the last one year, surpassing China, and these ‘super gadgets’, called ‘converged mobile devices’, have already made inroads in the Indian market.

The Dream of Mobile Utopia

In 2007, the converged device market grew to 120 million units and this year, it is likely to cross 180 million units. 2007 also witnessed the emergence of music as a key driver across youth and young adults as a result of which we saw an influx of music and radio enabled handsets. But today, mobile phones have added more features and navigation is one of them. Navigation is not only an emerging feature in high-end phones, but also lends snob value to the phone.

Considering the fact that India has over 260 million mobile subscribers and just a little over 31 million PCs, mobile handsets will soon replace the personal computer. As per industry estimates, more than 20 per cent of Indian mobile phone subscribers use their mobile phones to access the Internet.

The Players

Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola are the frontrunners, along with a plethora of players like Samsung, LG and many more streaming all over the mobile handset market. Nokia, over the years, has been tasting success with its focused product range, competitive pricing and good distribution network. Sony’s brand identity of high memory phones and phones with unique imaging solutions has been built with aggressive advertising and marketing strategy, while Motorola has focused on building an Indian appeal and a strong Indian connection with products targeting the youth. Right from opening up experience stores to branded retail shops, handset makers are leaving no stone unturned.

Youths have been the main target for the converged mobile phones. Handset makers have been redefining ways to crack the youth segment, which is also the primary target for the replacement market as young people have a tendency to change their handsets often. This has seen companies launching new set of products every six months.

The Flip Side

However, multi-utility device users have been facing problems related to battery life and handsets getting hung frequently while working on multiple applications. As a result, often the most basic utility of making voice calls doesn’t get served. However, the high end features with the added fancy value of owning the slimmest handset often suppress such inconsequential problems, with users considering them as the flip side of technology.

The ‘2.0’ buzzword

In the last five years, Web 2.0 has been flourishing and millions are actively participating in and creating blogs, Vlogs, podcasts, and shared spaces. Mass multiplayer online role playing games are spreading fast. In India, Orkut, Facebook, YouTube and Myspace have caught on in a big way. In anticipation of 3G and the soon to be launched iPhone, we are at the threshold of the convergence of the Internet, IT communication and media, which will open up the well positioned categories of target audience for the marketers.

As Indians access the Internet more on their mobile phones and less on their laptops, more and more marketers will target them through their mobiles. Thus, the potential for reaching out to consumers through marketing on mobile devices is huge. Mobility will give marketers the ability to target one consumer at a time, while also targeting millions as a media vehicle. So, here begins the role of Marketing 2.0.

Marketing 2.0 includes everything – from viral marketing, contextual advertising to mobile marketing, blogs, RSS feeds to email marketing, search engine marketing (SEM /SEO), advergaming to rich media, and broadband content. Mobile marketing or mobile advertising is already seeing promising times ahead.

Convergent players like Mauj and contest2win are some of the leading M-VAS companies in India. The M-VAS module will be transforming the mobile phone into a more informational and transactional device. The Indian music industry and Bollywood has already started tapping the vast business potential of M-VAS. ‘Om Shanti Om’ was the first Bollywood movie to release its fully downloadable music on mobile handsets and digital media (including iTunes) across 23 countries.

Mobile as an aspirational tool projects the personality of an individual tremendously. With the unique strengths of immediacy and personal engagement, it is definitely redy to tap the huge potential for mobile advertising.

In countries like South Korea, Japan, and Norway, mobile phones have already replaced credit cards and door keys. In India, it is yet to manifest itself in such avatars. But then, are these the times of Dashavatar!

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