Sunday, August 16, 2015

Let's Get Mobile: Will India Reinvent Apps And The Mobile Phone?

Industries built over 50 years have helped America, Taiwan, and China sustain their leadership position across the world. Technology has been the foundation of this growth. Mobile India has the potential to unleash a similar miracle in the land of the Mahatma. Will it be able to transform the country into a mobile empowered society and a knowledge economy using a gamut of apps, products and devices? With the advancement of mobile phones and the app economy, India may have an opportunity to inspire and transform the world again.

Imagine farmers in remote villages using mobile phones to find out the right price of their
food grains or to check for monsoon updates. Imagine children going to school with only a tablet preloaded with their entire curriculum instead of carrying heavy bags to school. Imagine communities reaching out to governments through their smart devices to demand a road that hasn’t been built for years. Imagine modern cities whose transport systems, health care facilities and civic services that are controlled through mobile gadgets and apps. With last week’s introduction of an inexpensive 4 G network, the dream for a mobile connected India is not too far in the future.

The emergence of a new Mobile India is evidenced by technology galloping away into the future. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Cheetah Mobile and many more are jumping on the bandwagon and taking control of the reins now for the opportunity to Make in India and Make for India. The appearances of Smart cities such as Bangalore, Pune, and Mumbai are springing up across India as digital centers for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The movement is well on its way with futuristic mobile devices and apps for home or office being developed in Bangalore as we speak.

This power of technology, however, has to be delivered to every citizen of the country. Digital accessibility is a prerequisite to, and a mandatory goal of the idea for a Mobile India. A Mobile India must belong to the people, just like the roads, railways and power lines. Presently, 400 million of India’s 1.25 billion people are connected to the net, many of them through mobile phones. Rural penetration and usage is improving with the 4 G network.

All these advancements translate into opportunities for corporations and entrepreneurs to lead by innovation and development for a variety of new mobile applications. While airwaves and optic fiber will continue to form the mesh of this mobile network, content will form its backbone.

Mobile industries globally are recognizing the next level of invention and innovations is now coming out of India. If Indian and global companies can focus on technologies and products that help build Mobile India, these strategies could have greater relevance to changing the world.

Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and social media, young urban India is crossing
the so-called Mobile divide fast, with people everywhere adapting to technology changes seamlessly. Corporations must be part of the ecosystem to make the vision for mobile revolution in India possible. A public-private partnership or start-up mentoring system will be a win-win situation for both corporations and India’s emerging app industry that can be scaled to also benefit the world at large.

The success of the mobile revolution in India, like its Taiwanese, Chinese and American counterparts, will depend on the benefits accrued to the people. If India is able to usher in a mobile revolution, this will not just improve the lives of its billion-plus people whose ancestors laid the foundations of many great civilizations, but it will also benefit the technology of global companies as well.