To create an i-mode an India, Indian mobile operators need to do three things.
First, they need to create an open publishing platform for value-added services. Any content or service provider should be able to offer a service in minutes. Just like anyone can create a website in minutes on today’s Web, so also should a person be able to create a mobile data service quickly. This will mean following open standards and eliminating internal controls on what type of service needs to be offered.
Second, the publishing platform needs to be integrated with the billing capability of the operator. It should be possible to charge small amounts of money to consumers for the newly created data services. It is almost impossible to bypass the operator to collect small amounts of money from consumers. Operators have the ability, cash balance and payment relationships to make this possible.
Finally, operators need to change the revenue share mindset, and start paying 70-80% of the share they get post-taxes from the government. Typically, operators get 85% today, with 15% paid out to the government for spectrum and other charges. Of that 85%, they should only retain 20-30%. (Today, they retain anywhere from 50-80%.) This will create the necessary incentive for developers to start creating and promoting their own services.
Taken together, these three initiatives can completely open up the mobile data services ecosystem in India.