By Akanksha Ravindran
Siliconindia in keeping with the tradition and core philosophy of creating a platform for experts in the industry to share their learning with other stakeholders, organized the Mobile Application Conference in Mumbai on February 19th. After the phenomenal success of the ‘Mobile Applications Conference’ in Delhi and Bangalore, this edition of the conference explored the new opportunities that are emerging in the mobile market in 2011 and shed some light on where the industry is headed and how entrepreneurs and developers can take advantage.
The event started with a keynote address on ‘Enterprise Mobile Applications’ by Vinod Gadiyaram, Regional Voice Head, Bharti Airtel followed by a session on ‘Mobile Web Development’ which was addressed by Mohit Saxena Founder & Vice President, Technology, InMobi.
Major shifts are changing the game including open platforms and new entrants. What’s different, what has changed? Is the app craze a fad or will it continue? The panel on ‘Mobile applications explode. Who wins and who loses?’ discussed about "the ecosystem battle for developers and their consumers" and how it affects every player in the mobile ecosystem — from carriers and handset makers to the application developers, themselves. The panelists were Alap Ghosh Head of Sales, Mobango and Hara Prasanna Kar Director Business Development , CanvasM.
Speaking on challenges of Mobile Content discovery, Ponnapa PG CEO- Emerging Markets, mPortal said, “India remains a large non-smart phone market and will remain so for the foreseeable future. A sizeable customer base is ready to consume a VAS / App but is very tentative in navigating the maze on their phone. Hence ‘Home screen widgets’ will play a critical role in the future of content discovery for this large segment”.
It used to be ringtones — now what?
This was the topic of a panel presided by Vijayakumar Radhakrishnan Chief Technology Officer, Dot Com Infoway, Sam Gulve Managing Director , Spice Mobility and Probir Roy Co-Founder, Paymate.
The discussion explored the potential of mobile applications, the benefits to consumer and enterprise users, and what it will take to transform a great application into a real company. Sam Gulve started by saying that mobile technology has got most integrated into our lives and has become the Sixth Sensory Organ for the human race. God gave us five sensory organs, and then we gave this additional organ to ourselves. It’s almost like a new eye, a new ear, a new tongue that we have got. And when one thinks about an application for this new organ, we should really think about how we can make life easy, fast and efficient for the human race. He exhorted the developers to fulfill an existing need by an application rather than creating an application and then creating a market for it. Probir Roy’s session carried opportunities in traditional VAS going forward in a 3 G scenario and also that the use of the Mobile for payments and financial transactions wraps around nicely with its current use for communication, information and entertainment.
The event then moved on to the VC perspective on opportunities for entrepreneurs in the mobile space. We had VCs like Ishan Gupta General Manager, One97; Karan Mohla Senior Associate, IDG Ventures India; Shailesh Lakhani Vice President, Sequoia Capital; Manoj Gupta Principal, Nexus Venture Partners and Samir Kumar Managing Director, Inventus Capital on the panel. Karan Mohla Senior Associate, IDG Ventures India said, “Having the right team is most crucial in any venture. VC’s look positively at backing teams with a complementary set of skills, good and upward trending track records, and most importantly a passion. Clarity of vision is critical, especially for the CEO when evaluating the strategic options for the company. It is also very important to know what problem you are solving, what solution you are offering and who your customer is. VC’s look to invest in companies which are solving a pain point with a perspective that is neither too narrow nor too broad. There are a several emerging opportunities within the mobile space especially in the areas of mobile app marketing and advertising as the app market is proliferating across the carrier, handset/OEM and off-deck platforms.”
At the event, some of the coolest mobile startups showcased the apps that they built. Some of the presenting companies included Ayansys, Blackpepper, Clarice Technologies, Define Labs, Envision Mobility, Genius Port, Hakuna matata, Money-on-Mobile, Mobuute, Mobiz Infotech, Mobile2Win, Omni-Bridge Systems, Spardin, Software workshop, Tech Solutions, Tritonetech and Webonise Lab. ‘Mobuute Technologies’ walked away with the ‘Top Mobile Apps’ award.
The other panel discussion at the conference was on ‘Carriers and Handset makers want a piece, too: Where will they go?’ Sunzay Passari, Executive Vice President - Telecom & VAS, Essar Telecom Group while speaking on this said, “When there are far too many applications very few of them reach the audience. The developing companies should keep in mind this when developing their applications where their chance of success is far more.” Krishna Durbha Head Customer Value Management, Reliance Communications felt that the interesting facet of this conference was the opportunity that it gave the development community to interact intensely with Venture Capital companies & Operators.
Organizations are no longer merely dipping their toe in the water, the major brands and advertisers now realize that mobile is the next big thing. But how do you execute mobile campaigns? Shardul Mohite CEO, Webonise Lab; Prasad Ramanathan Associate Vice President (Software), Patni Computer Systems and Viswanath Ramachandran Chief Technology Officer, Webaroo Technology shared their experiences of how the big brands have turned mobile marketing to their advantage, providing insight to developers and technology providers who are looking to reach the mass market.
Prasad Ramanathan from Patni Computer Systems felt, “Overall the conference was great platform from the standpoint of learning about the consumption patterns of mobile applications within the Indian context. And being able to get the perspective of different stakeholders in the mobile ecosystem (i.e. application developers, advertisers/ content aggregators, application distributors, operators, venture capitalists) in one place was a great value addition.”