Mobile Social networking has been the new buzz word around and is creating news. Mohit Gundecha, Head, India Operations and Director, Global Business Development at mig33 shares his insights with IndiaSocial.
IndiaSocial: What is the level of acceptance of the utility applications on mobile in India?
Mohit: Consumers in metros have a greater acceptance of utility applications than consumers in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Tier-2 and Tier-3 city audience has greater acceptance of social entertainment applications. As far as the experience on mig33 goes, we have seen the community growing at a fast pace in the India and currently stand at millions of users in the country. Utility applications are popular in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities of India. Before expanding in these geographic areas, we did a pilot check and went to cities across India and found very high popularity in far and wide cities like Patna, Bharuch, Jalandhar, Vapi, Valsad and towns in Gujarat, Haryana. Word of mouth drives the growth in these areas.
IndiaSocial: What kind of growth do you see in the Mobile VAS industry? Do you see revenues from VAS increasing in the near future?
Mohit: We are seeing growing ARPU in Social Entertainment Services – Virtual Goods, Social Games etc. As the number of active mobile internet users increase in India, we see a big revenue potential in the Indian market.
IndiaSocial: How do you envision things going forward? Is there going to be a global market ultimately of app store providers? Or will this continue to be very much localized depending on the characteristics of the market?
Mohit: We are seeing some good uptake on the global app stores. In fact, we see telecom operators in India inclining towards appstores – Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel and Virgin Mobile among others.
We hope that more of such independent global app stores become successful and consumers get access to relevant apps. Even local app stores like the Airtel App store, have seen early success.
IndiaSocial: mig33 operates in several countries. How is the Indian market unique from the operations in rest of the countries, in terms of regulations, user behaviour, and adoption of technology and network operators? What are the main challenges in the growth of the mobile social media marketing networks?
Mohit: The challenge is the adoption of mobile internet in India. Though it is growing fast, it’s time before it becomes mainstream. Also, smarter devices and network issues remain formidable challenges.
IndiaSocial: Do data plans pose a major hurdle in the growth of mobile social networking or does it remain unaffected by data plans?
Mohit: Yes, in the past, expensive data plans were a hurdle to the growth of mobile users in India. Increasingly we are seeing sub Rs.100 data plans, which is very encouraging for the industry. Telecom operators are seeing a healthy growth in GPRS users and are introducing innovative products to further incite users to GPRS usage. TATA Docomo, Aircel and Videocon are some telecom operators that have made a move towards it.
IndiaSocial: Currently ‘mobile to mobile’ is restricted to tier II and tier III cities. Are mobile social networks looking to venture into the tier I cities in order to expand? Do you see ‘mobile to web’ growing in the tier II and tier III cities?
Mohit: mig33 currently sees a use uptick in tier II and tier III cities. We see usage from far and wide cities from Patna, Bhagalpur, Bharuch, and Vapi in Gujarat to Cochin in Kerala.
IndiaSocial: Virtual goods and gaming seem to be key revenue, and growth drivers, in the evolved mobile social networking countries. What do you think will be the India experience?
Mohit: In our experience, majority of people use mobile social networks for fun and entertainment. Virtual gifts, emoticons and avatars and social games, real time player to player games on mobile are gaining a lot of traction in mobile-first countries like Indonesia, India and South Africa. In India, we are already seeing a very good uptake for mobile social games like Heads and Tails and MigWars.
IndiaSocial: Since the time of inception of mig 33, what major changes have you seen in the consumption patterns? What kind of content do people generate and share amongst friends?
Mohit: The mig33 community is opening up. For example, of late we have seen females from tier-2 and tier-3 cities, who desire social entertainment, logging onto mig33. In fact, this is growing the usage of our virtual goods along with social games which are played more by the guys.
mig33 is a mobile chat and gaming community. They also offer services like social games and virtual gifts. Currently mig33 has millions users in India wherein 75% of their users are from tier II and tier III cities and within the age group of 16-30 years.