Monday, September 27, 2010

Mobile Apps In India

Since the advent of mobile phones, courtesy Dr Martin Cooper of Motorola, in 1973, the journey of these little portable devices has been a remarkable and unique one. It has been a long way for the antenna carrying cell-phones to go all touchy-feely today.

The upcoming variation in the world of mobile phones is applications development, more popularly knows as mobile apps.

Mobile apps enable cellular phones (and other portable or hand held devices like the iPad or Amazon's Kindle or India's very own Olive Pad) to download apps and software like music, videos, games, e-books and numerous other forms on your mobile handsets.

While the mobile apps industry has been immensely popular and has a widespread market in foreign countries like the US, Sweden and Japan, India is still to catch the fever. The global market for mobile apps is huge and has been expanding faster than ever.

Gartner says consumers will spend $6.2 Billion in Mobile Application Stores in 2010, and forecasts that worldwide downloads in mobile application stores to surpass 21.6 billion by 2013. Free downloads will account for 82 per cent of all downloads in 2010, and will account for 87 per cent of downloads in 2013.

India is yet to catch up with the hysteria of apps industry that has engrossed an international crowd. The pace in India, though consistent, is slow.

A Knowledgefaber prediction says that though India is lagging behind in the usage of mobile downloads and software uses, there is a vast market for the apps industry in the Indian market in the near future.

With 400 million mobile phone subscribers, and the growth showing no signs of plateauing, India is expectantly being touted as a mobile hot spot globally. Today, mobile has become the only medium to reach out to a large part of India's population. No consumer business worth its name is ignoring the potential of reaching out to customers through mobile applications, for customer service, marketing and of late for transactions. By and large, that is what is driving Indian enterprise mobile applications adoption in the initial phase of the market rollout.

Adoption in the intra-enterprise space is low but gaining momentum. We are still at a stage where only a few sectors like retail and BFSI are using mobility apps for conventional areas like sales force automation, transaction management, etc.

A new entrant on the mobility street has been the government. Governments across India are busy mobilizing their operations and their workforces. The sector has emerged as an enthusiastic consumer (of mobile enterprise apps), and has niche requirements of developing its wireless capability, especially for domains of security, reliability, and scalability of its operations. Another area that the government is exploring is tracking and locational services.

Distribution Platforms

The digital distribution platforms for mobile devices mainly provide mobile software to mobile devices. The most popular apps distribution platforms are Apple App Store, Blackberry App World, Nokia's Ovi, Google Android and Palm App Market.

1. Apple App Store: Launched on July 10, 2008, with an estimated number of available apps of 225,000 (June 2010). The device platform used in App Store is iOS and it allows individual developers to publish content. The download count by July 2010 was 5 billion.

2. Google Android: Established on October 22, 2008, Android offers around 90,000 available apps. The download count of Android's apps is one billion by July 2010.

3. Nokia Ovi Store: Launched on May 26, 2009, Ovi provides 6,118 apps as on February 2010. The download count is 10 million. Symbian and Java based phones support the download from Ovi Store.

4. RIM App World: Started on April 1, 2009 by RIM, by June 2010, it had 7,422 available apps. The device platform is Blackberry OS.

5. Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile: Launched on October 5, 2009 it has 376 apps to offer. Supportive on devices with Windows Mobile.

6. Palm App Catalog: Palm/HP's apps market was established on June 6, 2009 and within a year it has 3,281 available apps. Almost 64 million is the download count via App Catalog which uses webOS as its supportive device.

Distribution Platforms in India

Airtel launched its apps store named 'App-Central' in February 2010.
App-Central, powered by Cellmania, provides more than 1,250 downloadable apps in around 25 categories like entertainment, e-books, games, travel, photography, themes, utilities and social networking sites. Airtel claims to be the first in India with mobile market place.

Aircel's 'My Aircel' apps launched in January 2010 and can be easily downloaded in a Symbian or Java supportive mobile phone. This operator-based apps store created with the help of Infosys Technologies on the Flypp platform provides access to entertainment, sports, videos, social networking sites to name a few.

Reliance Communications said the first version of its apps store would go live for GSM customers by the end of February 2010, and by the end of March 2010 an expanded version would be available to its CDMA customers as well. The apps would be available through its data portal RWorld 2.0. It will be 3G ready data-portal with world class content management system supporting all the latest features available on mobile handsets.

Vodafone has also officially launched its Mobile apps Store in India. After its official launch on February 15, 2010, today Vodafone Mobile Apps Store offers over 800 apps under various categories like entertainment, utility, finance, social networking, games, etc. Vodafone has already introduced improved convenience features such as 'tabbed browsing' with 'Newest Apps', 'Top Apps' and 'Just for You Apps' which offer a customised set of apps as per consumers' preferences.

With the advances of leading operators in the world of apps industry, it won't take the others to follow shortly and the competition would result into an extensive growth of the apps stores and the market.

Indian mobile users are mostly satisfied with basic apps like making calls, sending texts and MMS and at the most downloading themes, ring tones, music and videos occasionally. Downloading bigger apps and software is still awaited in the Indian market in a wider space.

Moreover, the Indian market and the users being price sensitive, the cost of downloading the apps has to be brought down by the service providers and the mobile manufacturers before more and more users get attracted to apps store.

The slow speed of 2G or 2.5G technologies is another reason for a low inclination to download software and apps. Though 3G has already stepped in, only state-owned operators BSNL and MTNL provide the service in metropolitan and big cities. While several countries in Europe have already started using 4G technology, India is still to get equipped with its processor 3G, and that makes a major difference in the influence of mobile apps industry.

The Mobile Entertainment Forum or MEF suggests that the second quarter of 2010 will have 21 per cent of all mobile entertainment revenues from mobile apps industry only. Much of the credit for the boom in mobile apps industry goes to Apple Inc. App store which holds a high ratio in the apps business. With the iTunes stepping in to the global scenario, the entire device ecosystem has undergone a revolutionary change.

And needless to say, Google's Android is the new kid in the town and it would soon evolve as a market giant in the days to come... so be prepared!

India, being a trend following country, wouldn't take much time to open the door to embrace a full-fledged mobile-apps market. Given time till a maximum of 2012 we promise the world to make the apps industry overcrowded with downloads!

Be it the hype, be it the research or be it the growing awareness, Indian users wait for smart apps soon to make their phones as well as living smarter than ever before!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Employer Branding

Employer Branding is still quite new and perhaps misunderstood term. Some professionals see it more as a modern buzz word, while others feel it is so intangible that it is difficult to qualify.

Employer Branding means building an identity, a story, a culture that has the ability to talk to the right target populations wherever they may be around the world. Employer Branding distinguishes a company from its competitors !

The employer brand is “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the minds of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market, and is concerned with the attraction, engagement and retention initiatives targeted at enhancing a company’s employer brand.”

Corporations have finally understood, that it is very important to develop an employer brand that makes sense for their organization. Talented candidates need to identify with companies that can offer the type of career they are looking for and the environment that appeals best to them. Communication and transparency is vital.

An employer brand must be managed consistently and exists whether a company actively manages its Employer Value Proposition (EVP), or not. The disciplines used for managing a corporate brand are increasingly used by the human resource and talent management community to attract, engage and retain talented candidates and employees in the same way marketing applies such practices in attracting and retaining clients.

A company’s corporate brand speaks to all key audiences – clients, prospects, investors, media, and partners – all stakeholders – including existing and potential employees. Employer brand is a facet of the corporate brand, not a separate competing brand. The two are inextricably linked and they have to be aligned.

Corporate branding is not just tagging your logo onto everything you is the core values that define what your company stands for. Think long and hard about your identity. Is this branding campaign simply like a big advertising campaign, or is it a campaign to tell the world who you are? If it's the former, you're in for a tough time. If it's the latter, you have a shot at making it through a difficult branding process and coming out on the other side stronger, with a deeper, wider moat to protect you from the competition.

There is a definite global shift in candidate attitudes to employment, career development, employers of choice, international mobility, work-life balance, women in the workplace, etc… Companies need to understand that this modern & transparent “attitude” is not simply a trend, but, a reality.

It is becoming increasingly competitive to attract and retain talent (at all levels). With the increasing global shortage of talent driven by an aging population, increased mobility of workers, especially generation Y’s, migration, and technological advances, attracting the right talent for your organization will become increasingly difficult.

Companies that spend time and money on employer branding reap the benefits. Just a few…

1. Companies that ‘live the brand’ spend less on advertising…companies like Starbucks and Google.

2. Companies with consistent, distinctive and deeply held values tended to outperform those companies with a less clear and articulated ethos.

3. Retention costs are significantly lower than the costs associated with hiring, training and integrating a new employee, not to mention time lost when the role is not filled.

4. Companies with a strong EVP/brand recruit the best talent and curb attrition.

5. Employees more likely to be engaged and perform consistently at a higher level when employer brand is strong.

Employer brand management should be a priority for companies of all sizes. Remember, while an unsatisfied customer tells ten people about his experience, an unsatisfied employee tells a hundred.

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