I wrote this a little over a year ago.
India of 2008 in the mobile space is quite similar to Japan of 1998. And into that Japan is when NTT Docomo launched its i-mode service in February 1999. In less than 3 years, 30 million subscribers were using i-mode.
What are the similarities between 2008 India and 1998 Japan? (Here, my focus is on the saturated, urban markets.)
– Mobile is at the centre of people’s lives.For many, mobile is the only interactive device.
– Lack of PC installed base handicaps Internet growth.
– Broadband is available only in pockets.
– There are few value-generating services on the PC (fixed line) Internet.
– Services are on the mobile are still limited due to operator control.
It was in this world that NTT Docomo, Japan’s leading mobile operator with a majority share of the market, launched i-mode. The focus of i-mode was on mobile data services. Content providers got 91% of the end user price, with Docomo taking the other 9% forproviding billing services. In addition, Docomo retained the full data transfer charges that were paid by subscribers. It also created the entire ecosystem – including that of handsets and key anchor service providers.
This is the revolution that India needs on the data side.