My time in Bangalore is about to come to an abrupt halt, and I’m most sad about that.
Though I’m happy to be heading back home to Austin (for a few days, anyhow), I’m most sad to be leaving behind the new friends I’ve made here and the great experiences I’ve had.
But I definitely hope to come back soon. There’s so much to see and do here, and I was here to (mostly) work.
However, my short weekend road trip out of Bangalore was certainly an eye-opening experience (see the previous post), but not as much for the reasons as you might think.
In fact, I did a little “stand up” (although I did it sitting down in the cab ride between IBM’s offices and our hotel) explaining a few observations about the state of India’s mobile market:
There are already well over 500M mobile users in India, and I’ve had some tell me that there are more mobile phones in India than there are people.
That would certainly seem to be the case based on all the mobile advertising I’ve seen while in south India these past two weeks.
And I’m not talking about advertising on mobile devices.
I’m talking about advertising every where else about mobile devices: Aircel, Airtel, Vodafone, and all the rest, they seem to advertise on every free surface and building one can imagine (some even without roofs!)
All those rupees aren’t being spent without good reason, and there are probably close to another 1B folks who still need to get a mobile phone here or who these mobile companies want to convince to switch brands.
Put another way, by 2014, there will be more people online in India via mobile devices than are currently online via the Web across the whole of Europe in 2010!
Of course, this fast start is even before India finished its first 3G spectrum auction earlier this year.
According to Daily Wireless, nine cellular firms participated in more than 180 rounds of bidding over 34 days, which was expected to earn the India government 509.6B rupees (around U.S. $11B).
Specifically, they sold three bandwidth slots for 3G services in each of 17 telecom service areas, and four in each of the remaining five areas.
Most of the aforementioned 500M users today are on 2G services, so when 3G kicks in some of these markets starting as early as September 1st of this year, mobile marketing madness watch out!
Even at that, I’ve been most impressed with the mobile coverage I’ve had throughout my two weeks here. Even in the most rural areas (including Bandipur National Park), I’ve been able to get a strong mobile signal.
If that’s any indicator of the progress to come in the Indian mobile market, you won’t be needing any of those Verizon “Can you hear me now” commercials running in Mumbai or New Delhi anytime soon!