When ARPU from mobile users declined, the telcos (carriers) embraced VAS for boosting revenues and profitability. IAMAI-IMRB Survey put Indian VAS market at about $ 700 m initially of which just 24% was shared with content providers. This muscle flexing by telcos had nipped many a VAS service provider in the bud.
Another reason why Mobile VAS do not take off in India is unimaginative and mindless content that nobody needs. Movie downloads, e-mail, web surfing, SMS contests that destroy more value than add, is shunned by the paise-pinching Indian user that likes to roam pre-paid. Watch a movie on a pint-sized screen? Nah... Cast votes by paid SMS on questions posed by news channels ? Forget it. I had lost count of number of VAS startup business plans I had trashed for unimaginative content.
I felt so glad to read Kirusa, a leading mobile VAS provider, announcing the closing of $10 million Series C financing. The funding, led by VCs Nexus and Helion comes after several carrier wins by Kirusa, and the high growth in the Voice SMS space. Now this is what I call being creative - a service millions of users in Asia pacific would love to have – a tribe that abstained from texting since they know only to dial numerals and speak. But Telco ARPUs could be hit further since many calls would now end in 30 seconds flat by voice text.
It leaves money in customer’s pocket and I’d drink to that…keep going Kirusa !