So, will it happen? That is the big question.
I am optimistic that in the next year, operators in India will realise that they have to take their destiny in their own hands. Today, all controls seem to be in the hands of the government. Random changes in policies, the 2G spectrum auction overhang, the 3G roaming issue, Reliance’s 4G launch coming up, more spectrum auctions – there seems to be no shortage of issues which are seemingly beyond the grasp of the operator.
This is where they have got it wrong. Instead of crying wolf on what the government does or doesn’t do, they need to focus on the consumer and innovation. They need to change their mindset to enabling the ecosystem for next-gen data services by creating an i-mode in India.
I believe one of the operators will do this – not because it believes in it, but because it is not left with any choice. And that will force others to follow suit, and open the floodgates for developers and content providers. For long, India’s mobile data market has fallen short of expectations. Apple has shown what is possible by relegating the operator to exactly what it fears – a dumb pipe. The combination of fear and helplessness is a potent combination for change!