The power of SMS in India and beyond .. and the implications for MMS

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I had the pleasure of meeting Rajesh Jain , one of India’s foremost Internet/Mobile entrepreneurs(Rajesh set up Indiaworld. IndiaWorld was acquired in November 1999 by Sify in one of Asia’s largest Internet deals for $115 million.). Its flattering to know that Rajesh(and V C Bothra one of India’s top bloggers and Netcore’s strategist and communities practise head) follow my thinking through my books and blog.

His new company netcore launched a service called mytoday which won the runner up award in the GSMA true mobile startup category.

As with anything in India, the numbers are impressive .. more so with a simple service which has a large, mass market uptake.This simple service has 1% of India’s SMS traffic!

Here’s what I mean .. mytoday has

• 2.5 million users

•1% of India’s SMS traffic

•400K new users each month

•8 million SMS sent daily

•2% of India’s SMS Traffic

•2 billion SMS sent so far (15 mos.)

•25+ content channels: Dailies

•10,000 user-created groups: Mobs

•100+ enterprise channels: BizBond

•Mobile Portal: mytoday.mobi

But what about the future? The future according to Rajesh(both in India and beyond) lies with richer media such as MMS. This is interesting since I have been discussing the same trend recently with Russell Buckley. The mobile web is clearly showing resurgence but a second candidate is MMS. MMS has had many a false dawn but it may finally be getting some traction as a mass market medium – both in emerging markets and mature markets.

For example – This post from Mobile point of view China’s news media is in full blossom of mobile adaptability is an indicator and this is fuelled by MMS.

China’s rapid economic development and per capita GDP growth has driven vigorous development of the media industry with a growth rate of 11.9% in 2005, two percentage points beyond that of China’s GDP. In 2006, the growth rate exceeded 12%. Sub-channel growth percolates along, with the Internet, digital television, new media (mobile) and advertising all growing rapidly and especially those industries/companies related to digital TV which are expected to be the core center of investment in 2007. This is all drawn from an interesting Chinese government “blue paper” report released last month by China’s MII.

So, my impression is – if MMS can achieve even a fraction of the reach of SMS, then publishers(including futuretext) can gain considerably from it – along with the uptake of the Mobile Web.

Seek thoughts and feedback.

Is MMS maturing in emerging markets?

Will we see the same trends in mature markets?

What holds MMS back?

Is it a medium for publishers?

What is the cost structure of MMS in mature and emerging markets?

I must admit it’s been a while since I followed MMS but the traction gained by companies such as netcore with a service like Mytoday is impressive.

Qs is: Are we seeing a trend here?