Mobile e-mail set to explode in India

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 31 May 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: More Indians are expected to use their mobile handsets to access e-mail. This phenomenon is now at a nascent stage, with a market penetration of just 5-10 percent. However, six to 12 months down the line, the scenario is expected to look radically different, with major players expecting technological advancements to drive growth.

The biggest inhibitor to accessing e-mail through mobile has been cost, which in turn is due to the technology in use at present. For instance, at present, Hutch is trying to replicate the laptop experience through Smart Phones and Pocket PCs. This, however, comes at a hefty price tag, Rs 11,000 to Rs 18,000 in the case of Smart Phones and Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 in the case of pocket PCs.

The other option is access to e-mail via SMS, where the user pays for accessing mail. This again turns out to be expensive, as the user pays a monthly charge plus an additional amount for SMS.

The disadvantage of this code-based technology is that if the code reached a third party, there are chances of misuse. The other disadvantage is, only 160 characters can be displayed. Access to e-mail via GPRS also turns out to be expensive. Further, file attachments cannot be accessed.

The price of 'smart phones' and 'pocket PCs' are expected to fall in the days to come. This will generatemore demand for accessing mail on mobile phones, said a spokesperson from Hutch. The other factor contributing to the growth of e-mail on mobile phones is the low penetration of personal computers and the internet.

Currently, Reliance Infocomm’s R-World based e-mail services sound economical, where the user pays Rs 3 per login session and can read and send unlimited mails per session. However, one cannot check attachments.

Industry experts suggest that the key issue facing the market is the problem of Spam, on which the user has no control.

The solution lies in making more value additions along with protection against Spam.

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