Mobile operators need to take advantage of mobile internet growth in China and India
Mobile operators need to take advantage of mobile internet growth in the developing mobile markets of China and India in order to gain valuable mindshare among local content providers and app developers, said a new study.
Mobile internet will account for one quarter of China's mobile revenues in 2012, up from less than 23% in 2011, and in India mobile internet will represent 19% of this year's service revenue, said ABI Research.
Yet while the figures demonstrate the robust demand for mobile data across Asia-Pacific, they still pale in comparison to the region's more advanced markets like Japan (40%) and Hong Kong (44%).
Senior analyst at ABI Research, Aapo Markkanen, explained: 'It's in carriers' interests to become part of the internet value chain from early on. Strategic choices, such as those seen in Indonesia, can give operators a more integral role in defining the customer experience in a time when the local digital landscape is still being shaped up. Moreover, such moves also allow them to gain valuable mindshare among local content providers and app developers.'
For instance, in Indonesia, Telkom offers its customers a music streaming service, in a joint venture with Korea's SK Telecom, which has successfully utilised a similar service to drive data uptake in its home market. Meanwhile XL Axiata has partnered with Blaast, a cloud technology vendor, to set up a cloud-based platform that enables feature-phone users to take advantage of more advanced, smartphone-like mobile apps.
However, the shift toward the next generation carrier model does not come without risks. In the low margin environments of the emerging APAC, operators should encourage users to migrate to data subscriptions and thus minimise the growing pains related to the 3G and 4G expansion.
According to Jake Saunders, ABI Research vice president of forecasting: 'Early adopting smartphone owners typically generate far higher data traffic volumes than users that follow them. If an operator relies solely on the natural early adopters as the first source of data revenue, it will have to recover the capital expenditure longer than a rival that proactively develops itself a long tail of lower-income data subscribers.'