Saturday, May 10

EMweekly, a new emerging markets update on Putting People First

New technologies in emerging markets is one of my favourite subject, so I am delighted by 'Putting People First' new EMweekly. A weekly dedicated to innovation, technology and emerging markets. Check it out.

EMweeklyPutting People First announces the launch of EMweekly, a compilation on Emerging Markets starting with this week’s issue on the theme of the booming Indian mobile industry.

Compiled by Niti Bhan and David Tait (of the Emerging Futures Lab), EMweekly will focus on a wide ranging selection of news, links and articles as well as analysis and indepth stories from the developing world. You can also receive the EMweekly via rss or email.

EMweekly /1

The Indian Railways plans to tap some 100,000 recharge vendors and mobile phone service providers spread across India to offer cellphone ticketing, in what appears to be an interim step before allowing direct billing via individual cellphones.

Booming mobile services in India. “Why is demand for such services particularly great in India? For starters, there are just 30 million PCs in the country, so e-commerce on the Internet still has a long way to go. Cell phones, on the other hand, are becoming pervasive. Nearly 300 million Indians now have phones - making it the No. 2 mobile market on earth - and some 8 million new subscribers sign up every month. These young, mobile-savvy folks have high aspirations but are underserved in everything from banking to entertainment. Getting to them via their cell phones is the best way to provide much-needed and valued services.”

IBM has seen some of the writing on the wall. It knows that mobile phones are replacing PCs at more and more tasks at a greater rate each day. In recognition of that, a new IBM Research program will entail a number of efforts to bring services to the millions of people in the world who have bypassed using the personal computer as their primary method of accessing technology, and are instead using their mobile phone to access the Web, conduct financial transactions, entertain themselves, shop, and more. IBM’s research facilities in India will be spearheading the work on these new mobile programs, but IBM said seven other global sites also will be working on the projects.

Today, there was news that the apex bank–the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)–is in the process of formulating guidelines for a payment system using mobile phones. RBI is in discussions with banks, service providers and industry bodies to develop the payment system.

“The rapid expansion of this mode of communication has thrown up a new delivery channel for banks,” RBI said in the policy statement. The apex bank plans to post the draft guidelines for this payment system on its Web site by Jun. 15.

The buzz around cellphones has suddenly gone missing. Inflation is taking a toll on sales of mobile phones, and this has sent both manufacturers and retailers into a tizzy. Not only have the launch of new products been postponed, retailers are not even in the mood to stock new products. Retailers say that the demand for cell phones has dropped dramatically in the past one month. […]

However, the low-end cell phones are not affected as badly as their high-end counterparts because people who have to buy a new cell phone are lowering their budget and going for basic models,” said a senior executive with a mobile company.

Infrastructural updates and increased focus on rural penetration likely in the near future. “The India & South Asia Com congress in Mumbai, after two days of discussions and experience-sharing on the strategies to grow the region’s telecommunications market. […] The overall feeling from the speakers was that the potential for growth is great in the region, provided the stakeholders can take advantage of the opportunities offered by rural telecommunications, 3G networks and value added services.”

In a bid to gain quicker foothold into the rural areas, Bharti Airtel has formed a join venture company with IFFCO, which will offer customised mobile services to a target base of 55 million farmers across the country.Under this venture, Airtel has created a value added platform to offer free daily voice updates in local languages on mandi prices, farming techniques, weather forecasts and fertiliser availability to the farmers. In addition, the farmer will be able to call a dedicated helpline, manned by experts from various fields, to get answers to their specific queries.

Recently Experientia extended its services with qualitative user research and experience design capabilities in emerging consumer markets in developing nations such as in Sub Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia etc.

This new offering is founded upon a recent structural collaboration between Experientia and three emerging market specialists — Niti Bhan (based in Singapore), Claude Martin (based in France), and David Tait (based in South Africa) — and an extensive research project in Africa we just completed for a major technology company.

via Putting People First

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