India to Dominate Mobile Content, says mobileSQUARED

India is set to become the leading global market for mobile content by 2013, according to the latest research report from mobile analyst mobileSQUARED. The report, India: Birth of a Mobile Content Superpower 2009 2013, forecasts that the total market for mobile entertainment and content will reach $2.37 billion (1.43 billion) by 2013, up from US$835.78 million in 2009.
The Indian mobile market consists of more than 400 million mobile subscribers, which is growing at 15 million new connections per month, and will hit 700 million subscriptions by the end of 2010. This phenomenal rate of growth is fuelling huge new revenues in the mobile content and entertainment market, the report notes. This growth comes despite delays in the roll-out of 3G technology.
 India may be thought of as an emerging market, but the numbers are already staggering, mobileSQUARED Technology Analyst and report author, Ed Barker. Even without 3G in place, it is the potential of the Indian marketplace that has sparked a furore within the wireless world. 
Barker adds that the continuing growth in subscriptions, and the deployment of 3G from late 2009 onwards, is expected to deliver massive growth in mobile voice and value-added services (VAS) revenues for the leading operators and content providers.
The market for mobile entertainment services is expected to be worth US$2.37 billion in revenues by 2013, fuelled by continual growth in the take-up of RBTs, games, graphics driven by strong mobile Internet usage, he says.
The primary sources of revenue in the market are ringback tones (RBTs), ringtones, graphics and wallpapers, and mobile games. By 2013, all of these content areas will grow in terms of revenues, with the RBT market constituting the largest single area of content.
Licenses for 3G spectrum are not likely to be issued until late 2009, however, after a series of delays by the Telecoms Regulator of India (TRAI). But the inherent increase in bandwidth and lower of per-byte data costs associated with 3G technology will become essential to the ongoing development of the content and services market by reducing barriers to entry for the mass market, according to the report.
Despite these limitations, the next five to 10 years will see a huge uptake in both 3G and content services in India, says Barker. To put this into perspective, even if just 10% of Indian consumers take up 3G over the next decade, there will be more than 100 million next-generation mobile users on the sub-continent.
The report says that in many ways, the access revolution is happening now. With wireline broadband infrastructure highly limited and PC penetration low, it is the wireless world that is set to drive the digital Indian economy over the next decade. Middle-class and student India is already beginning to use their mobile phone as the primary Internet access point.
But the report argues that the market for content in India is at risk of being stymied by highly interventionist operators, who take a huge proportion of revenues from mobile content sales and dictate pricing policy. Research shows that the operator take of content revenues is normally more than 70% of on-portal revenues, or content monetised through premium SMS. Operators strategy in India is in marked contrast to the relatively open content-driven world of the Apple App Store and Google Android devices that are dominating the thoughts of operators, OEMs and consumers in Western markets.