Oppurtunity: Mobile applications in India

I guess the importance of mobile applications in the future was driven home for me by Russell’s rants over and over again! And while thinking about it I really started to see an oppurtunity back home (India). First of all, the mobile users in india are much more mobile savvy and are big time into SMS (way ahead of US) and almost every other person has a mobile phone these days! The thought about writing applications that people would use back home is very exciting for a couple of reasons.

  • The buying power back in india is growing enormously.
  • The general impression that I get is people are willing to buy software/service if its reasonably priced
  • There’s lot of opportunity in writing mobile applications back home. The early bird gets to reap the benefits.
  • There’s lot of talent back home. All they need is some direction! You could probably get a bunch of college kids to code for you and buy them cool mobile phones 🙂 (Nokia T3650 is 100$! after rebate in Amazon).
  • Talking about talent, there are a lot of housewifes in India who are educated but stay back home to take care of kids although this is change and mind you these are some pretty smart well educated women. One could use them for localising you software 🙂
  • Its only a matter of time (a year or so before Java phones reach india and trust they will explode!) and I sense a window of oppurtunity here!

Here are some items that have to be addressed for the software to be successful.

  1. Internationalisation! First & foremost! Apart from the cities english is not the primary medium. There are a lot of users who speak/read the local languages (like tamil/hindi/etc)
  2. Addressing primary needs: For Indians, 3 things in life are vital. Food, movies & cricket! People could pay unreasonable amounts of money to satisfy these 3 needs 😉
  3. Copyprotection: Although the general mentality is changing and people are starting to be buy software, piracy still remains and big issue. You see, we Indians believe in value for money and also in taking in easier way out if possible (lol, not all of us) but once we see the value in the service and as long as its reasonable then it becomes a big hit!
  4. Tieing up with local services. For example, there are these vendors whom one could call and they would deliver food from various food joints. If a user has to pay 10/20/30 Rupees (based on the order size) to order food thro his mobile Im sure they would!

Bcos of the indian population, the lines to any place are long!(Be it to buy movie tickets or pay bills or buy grocery). One should use this as a starting point to write applications to make money straight away!

  • Bill payment: Although paying bills is taking off, the ability to pay bills thro the mobile phone for a small fee would be one killer application!
  • Ticket booking: Be it tickets to watch movies or train/bus tickets this would be one neat application. There are lot of procrastinators like me 🙂
  • Grocery: The last I remember I was there, the concept of rebates/tokens/coupons had not crept it as yet (Although ab machines were in full swing 🙂 ). Their grocery list is usually standard and they like to spend little time in a grocery store (Shopping is a different fun back home). If one could use the mobile app to customise and send a request to the store and get their grocery list delivered @ home, it would be one helluva system. (Delivery in india is cheap!)

The software has to be free (Word “Free” sells across globe) and the subscription fees has to be reasonable! I am amazed @ how the big companies like Infosys, WIPRO and satyam have not capitalised the local markets 😦 Sad .. Its time to buy the T3650 and start coding .. Would be worth the 100$ investment!

P.S: its been about 3 years since I left home and things change pretty fast there. Please feel free to correct me!


3 thoughts on “Oppurtunity: Mobile applications in India”

  1. The way I see it, one of the main problems with investing in third world country is the strength of the Rupee against the US dollar. Most of the infrastructure has to be bought at US prices, and supported by a user base that expects to pay for things at locally acceptable rates. I’m not sure you could price your service that low, and if you could, your profit margin might be so low to make it not worth the effort. Your vision is well-intentioned, but I think that throwing a few college kids at the problem and then raking in the profits is simplistic at best.

    I understand that you would like to see advances in technology in your home country, but I’m not sure that its quite ready.

  2. I think its a perception issue. The mobile technology is far ahead than you think! As for the pricing, you are missing the point in terms of the numbers .. (india’s population according to one report it is the fastest growing cell phone market in the world) As for the putting college kids into the solving the problem .. sure does sound simplistic .. but I never said its easy but it aint impossible.

    If you read my writeup carefully I mention its a few years away and the time is right to get a head start.

    But your right .. its a humungous task..but there is oppurtunity! not guts no glory! But thanks for expressing your thoughts.. Appreciated! BTW do you have a blog?

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