The data-wars have begun

While the whole country was watching the 3G license bidding rounds, Aircel was probably working towards its first data-centric product- Peek. Launched with a lot of noise, Peek is an entry level handset (available for Rs 3999/-) that promises BlackBerry kind of experience- with Push Mail, multiple email id configuration, alert for new messages, scroller for navigation – it is definitely a BlackBerry insipred device.

Its not very often in India, that the operator takes the handset/gadget route to capture the market. Apart from bundling Nokia phones with connections, the only other device related initiative was data-cards. Peek is probably the first step of its kind & it would be interesting to find out, if the device is being given as a white label to the operator or has Aircel actually invested in this product’s design & development.

BlackBerry has gradually gained a lot of mind share even in the non-corporate segment, thanks to its fast working Facebook & Orkut apps. Peek campaigns, in contrast fail to highlight the social connectivity one can experience on this handset & this might be one single reason they would fail to impress the young, unemployed segment.

I expect Aircel to pitch Peek to corporate sector- esp industries with large sales teams – it would be a no-brainer for them to go ahead with.

3G now in India… immediate impacts on Telecom Sector

Today’s biz papers were all shouting out loud about the 3G telecom policy now finally being here. For the uninformed like me, it meant too much excitement about half a mark (thats how much of technology leap we would take by this costly migration from strong2.5G to 3G/strong ) on the score card…

3g MTNLSo I decided to read more about it and understand the business logic behind all the fuss. It seems 3G promises the platform for real convergence on the small screen (read handset)- with streaming video, media rich applications, high speed data transfer and what not. But the real low hanging fruits for the telcos lies in the 3G’s strongspectrum handling efficiency/strong.

As mentioned in a previous note-Spectrum is the biggest fixed cost for telcos and better utilisation in circles of high user base will reap immediate rewards.

So here I go again, trying to predict how the 3G roll-out will happen/strong in India:

  • The top players like Vodafone & Airtel will have to adopt 3G when it happens. There will be too much reputation risk (from the premium segment customers) for them to delay this. Coz in my mind, this premium segment customer has either tasted a better user experience abroad or feels that he would use these “cool” features once 3G is here
  • If the 3G license is available by circles- the top players will go about doing this in phases. I would have done it coz that way you dont need to implement it in smaller towns – barring a few like Ludhiana, Chandigarh etc
  • The battle for content will start- albeit with a substantial lag of 6-7 months, before the critical mass of consumers builds up
  • The initial 3G consumption on the consumer side will be high in the school & college/strong going segment- where entertainment will be the underlying theme- music, music videos, sports clips etc
  • Over a longer period of time- once the novelty factor fades out, it would be easy to segment the 3G consumers by category of content consumed/strong .Hence the Telcos will have to be tied up with the perceived leaders in each vertical.
  • It would create a whole new industry of applications , content providers. VAS as a term would now mean more than ring tones amp; wall papers 🙂
  • The average cost of phones bought will rise in short term, before 3G phone prices start coming down. 3G capability will become a decision criteria at the handset level- possible death of mid-segment phones.