College going Aaliya loves her new pink Blackberry smartphone, and the reason is simple. “I bought this handset just because of the Blackberry Messenger (BBM). If any other handset would have had the same mobile application, I would have bought it.”
If one were to analyse Aaliya’s consumer behaviour—innovation in mobile applications or apps in tech parlance, still has a long way to go in our country—to satisfy consumers like her. The $2 billion Indian mobile apps industry, which includes value added services, network-based services and enterprise apps is dominated by telecom operators and is primarily driven by them. On the flip side, independent mobile application companies face their own challenges and are dependent on the big carriers. Even handset providers are in a phase to realise their responsibility and opportunity in this space.
As per industry standards, the telcos keep 70% revenue share in the apps sold in their apps stores. The rest 30% is distributed amongst the application developers. It is exactly the opposite in the West, where companies like Apple keep a 30% cut and give the rest to apps providers.
There are a range of mobile apps companies which have come up in the last few years in our country. These innovative minds are helping telcos with their declining average revenue per user (ARPU). We get in touch with a few established, and a few budding mobile apps companies to read their minds and analyse what the Indian consumer wants.
VC funding: Jan 2009 worth $3-$5 million by Canaan Partnership
At present: 85 employees, annual revenues $3-5 million
The challenge is to reach the common man in India, feels Rajesh Razdan, founder of mCarbon, a mobile applications company which started three years back and has 85 employees at present. Start-ups of his scale face a lot of marketing and branding challenges. “We are doing certain alignments with telecom operators such as Airtel to reach the audience. As per industry standards, we get 30% revenues of the apps sales and rest is kept by the telecom operator.”
mCarbon has initiated two major applications. One is the Airtel call manager which helps the user to have customised caller tunes saying, “I am in a meeting, call me in 45 minutes”. It also has another application which is like a pocket magazine, called Channel 99. This helps subscribers to read news, music downloads, articles etc on their mobile. The content is