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I have explored various other aspects of mobile internet in recent times. It would not be worthwhile to cry myself hoarse about the pathetic mobile access in India (which I have done repeatedly) but lets take a look at how the platforms are evolving based on the Mobile version of “broadband”.
Unfortunately, this write up draws inspiration from the western markets because the traditional mobile industry in India has not matured beyond the typical value added services of ring tones. I find it really hard to swallow if someone points me towards the mobile “games”. Yes, there are enough idiots to crow about the viability of mobile games as a money spinner but we could safely ignore them.Including the myriad “research firms” that pay money to get “quoted” in mainstream Indian press and financial dailies.However, it could be different if we have something like “Indian version” of Angry Birds. (Disclosure: I have that on my Android handset and ABSOLUTELY love it. With their shift towards in-game payment options), they would be justifying the huge surge of interest from venture capitalists.
This brings Indian media into picture. Over the past few weeks, I have been interacting with some people regarding “upgradation” of their web sites. They are badly coded examples of the worst case scenario of “Indian outsourcing”. I have tried, in recent times, to make a shift towards Drupal and understand that it is a sum of all aspects that needs to work in different browsers with cross platform compatibility. Unfortunately, they don’t realize the importance of having a proper mobile access stripped of advertisements.
Hence, a “mature” access device is unlikely to make a dent in India. The success of iPad hinges more from how Jobs has been able to “distort the reality” with his marketing gimmicks and how the whole ecosystem has been designed to keep the customers locked in. However, given the form factor, Jobs has been able to hit the sweet spot; a readable touch screen with mobile access.
There are people who swear by Flipboard but I haven’t really found a good RSS reader with capability of semantic linkages. Zeta has been launched recently with a lot of promise and cluster fuck advertising but since I don’t have an iPad, it is unlikely I would do any kind of a comparison between Zeta and Flipboard. I am stuck to Google Reader because thats unfortunately, the only in-browser app that works (others are plain useless with perhaps a bit of exception to RSS Owl or Blog Bridge).
Murdoch had launched “The Daily” with a lot of hype; but a few weeks later, there are people leaving him away in droves.There has been a lot of explaining behind this because arguably the fundamental reasoning behind iPad apps is flawed. For those who are watching the media space (and betting on Indian version of tablets) are going to be highly disappointed but well, they are unlikely to invest in resources which cannot be monetised (given the huge levels of piracy and nearly absent mechanisms of micropayments in this technology backwaters of the world).
So this effectively boils down to lack of developer interest in creating applications (hey what would you get with a huge army of morons and script kiddies who can’t even code a single line of software), lack of venture capital and inability to sustain a start up. (I strongly suggest that you read Shyam’s write up on the same issue). To quote selectively:
The main problem is that the Indian market for digital goods and services is tiny. In a non-existent market, neither product finesse nor pricing can make much of a difference. There is barely enough size in the digital domain to sustain large profitable companies.
Ironically, mobile companies are the only ones to push for content. However, therein comes the “platform interest”. Would you invest money in something that works across all handsets with rival operators? Or would you invest in something that would be locked up for your own network alone? Either way, the thorny issue does not yield any straight answers.
Hence, I find the obessession with pumping up digital content a tad boring. Not because I don’t want to consume but the options are sorely limited. Eve for 3G access, companies forbid “tethering” (not that no one cares a rats ass fuck about it) but they expect the 3g phones to have gigantic screens that would solve the issue. This would also explain that one reason why the prices are so high. Apart from the sunk costs, most of the operators are well aware that Internet access on mobiles would broadly mirror the broadband access on land lines i.e. a huge mass of zombified idiots would access only Yahoo or Facebook. It cannot be wished away because they would only cater to the mass of idiots without bothering about the “outliers” like us because there is no “real space” created.
No one wants to spend money to “change the habits” for content access. They would rather fill up the channels (and “news”) with “Bollywood flotsam” and fake celebrities prancing around either naked or raved out with hollow sockets floating around in public perception. (Okay well, I am biased since I find most of them really retarded).