‘Sab hogaya 3G pa busy. No aabadi No barbaddi. What an Idea sirji’. Wonderful concept, trying to give india a country of 1.2 billion people the solution for a problem which even the god would have got an headache. So did 3G which was launched a year back has really helped us in taking care of this mammoth problem? Has technology taken care of this big shit that we are in. Or was it just an ad through which an adgurus was hoping to win a cannes with it. Or should it be the telecom scamsters who should take responsibility for 3G never spreading like fire in india.
Well like the famous hindi dialogue ‘Taali ek haath sa nahi baajti’ there are lot of factors which goes on to suggest that why 3G has not replaced condoms. And before we get into the factors let’s look at the current 3G population. As per TRAI, India has a total 851.70 million wireless/mobile (GSM + CDMA) subscribers at the end of Jun-11 and 40.70% of total wireless subscribers base are capable of accessing GPRS (2G/3G) Data Services/CDMA Internet at the end of June, 2011.
And as per the latest reports only 12-15 million people have subscribed to 3G. So in effect only 2 % of the entire telecom population & only 4-5 % of the mobile internet population has subscribed to 3G services. A platform that was slated to revolutionize mobile experience through high-speed internet, interactive gaming, video-calls and mobile TV seems to have failed badly. Lot of factors can be attributed to this downfall- High tariff plans, bad user experience, majority of the Indians not having a 3G enabled phone, Poor product advertising, lack of innovation by the telecom industry, 3G infrastructure not to the mark. So let’s go by each factor now
Tariff Pricing: Pricing 3G services appropriately in a market where around 200 million prospective users live on less than $ 2 a day, will always be a major challenge. Before we get into 3G Tariff’s, let’s look at 2G tariff pricing. Lot of telecom players were offering 2GB plan for Rs. 99. And if I look at the same data usage for a 3G plan it will charge me roughly Rs. 700. So almost Rs. 600 more. Also in India, as per Opera browser study on Indian audiences, data transfer per user is roughly 8 MB. Even if I ignore this data, considering it’s just opera browser but still the question that every consumer will ask whether I am getting value for this price and why should I even go for a 3G plan when I am not that actively surfing on mobile
User experiences: We have been constantly hearing from users that the 3G experience has not been that thrilling. Either the speed is not that fast or there is no connectivity. Something which will definitely improve over a period of time. And I would still say if you are in the 3G zone one can clearly understand the difference. Also, from my personal usage, the 3G experience has really been just too good. I can download a 6 MB video in 30 seconds, can access emails, Twitter & Facebook like never before. Hence if you are someone who lives fast-paced should definitely go for 3G inspite of all the media reports
Indian Phone market scenario: If one needs to experience 3G to the maximum, the general consensus is that one needs to either have a smartphone or Tablet. And if we look at some figures Smartphone sales in India made up 6 percent of total device sales in the first three quarters of 2011(Gartner). And if we look at the tablets sales(CIOL), only 1,58,000 media tablets were sold (shipped) in the nine months ended June 30, 2011. The split between 3G and WiFi models was in the proportion 70:30. Just goes on to prove why 3G is yet to take that BIG step in India telecom market.
Service providers & handset manufacturers joining hands: Post 3G launch we have seen a lot of players getting into 3G deals with handset manufacturers. Samsung with Vodafone, Airtel & Aircel with Iphone, Idea launching its own 3G android phones. While this tie up have helped 3G to make further in roads but still very rare and few. And specially looking at Indian markets with more than 150 handset vendors and a country where brands like Micromax, Spice & Karbonn are capturing market at a very rapid space, we will need more tie ups especially with the Indian vendors to make 3G the favorite of the nation.
3G Innovations & advertising When the agencies must have been briefed about the 3g product I think everyone from the NCD (Can’t say how many of them) to the management trainee must have got involved into the ideation. So while one agency came up with a family planning initiative, another got the iconic Zoozoo to be the rajnikanth. And everyone was trying to sell 3G as a life changing service. If we look at the graph it goes on to shows what kind of 3G products the bigger brands in the telecom industry have advertised and their importance in the consumer’s mind. Also, if we look at the big cats like Airtel, Vodafone, idea, Reliance there is not one single service which is distinct to them. It clearly goes on to establish that there are really few products which would have really made a difference to the consumer’s lives let alone changing it around.
I personally think it is the lack of innovation from the telecom players that have led 3G not spreading like a fire. It’s the primary reasons why the Indian audience has not got addicted to 3G browsing and something which I will cover it in the next blog. Till that please use condoms so that it is no aabadi and no barbaadi.