Innovation: Future for Mobile Communications in Pakistan

ArtWeb20By Sadaf Zarrar

Pakistan’s cellular industry has seen quite a few ups and downs in the previous year, especially with the government imposing restrictions on services in the name of national security. However the future for telecommunication in Pakistan looks exciting, with increased market saturation, continuous innovation and transformation in technology being the key to future growth.

Innovative mobile network operators, while still offering attractive voice and messaging packages, will now look for a slight shift towards service centric value addition.

Cellular service providers will increasingly look to provide innovative entertainment and financial services to increase their market share. One important aspect to analyse is whether the industry will be able to sustain the current pricing model or will we see a shift?  The answer, according to some industry experts, might lie in presenting the customer with a greater portfolio of services, both for the business and everyday consumer. While doing so it is important that operators guarantee quality of service.

Mobile network operators in Pakistan, like those around the world are realising the growing use of affordable smartphones and are looking to monetise the in-life use of these devices. With low to medium-end smartphones driving massive growth in the handset market, consumers are getting increasingly acquainted with the kind of services provided by 3rd party apps, e.g. chat, mobile games etc. Driven by this interest in apps, smartphones and high-end feature phones will generate higher revenues per user within the cellular ecosystem. Moreover, low-end feature phones need not be excluded from this ecosystem, as Cloud technology can be effectively utilised to bring computing power to every Pakistani mobile subscriber.

Most experts agree that apps will soon be as important to both small and large businesses as websites are today. Increasingly, brands are also becoming aware that mobile apps provide an excellent touch-point with their consumers. Presently, most app developers are focused on developing apps from a consumer perspective; however, it is likely that the greatest growth for mobile apps will come from the enterprise sector. These apps will be offering efficiency/productivity/revenue support for businesses, ranging from sole practitioners who can access/deliver their services anytime, anywhere, to the largest enterprises with the most data to be mined and used. Developed correctly, such an app-based mobile ecosystem could drive brand differentiation, alternative revenue streams and a clear way out of the incessant price wars that cellular operators have been engaged in for the better part of the last three years.

Cellular operators such as Warid are taking a peek into the future and are driving innovation with the launch of mobile apps such as ‘Hari Bati’, an application developed by Train of Thought that has the ability to show live traffic updates on a map-based interface; Warid’s joint app with, which brings auto sales and purchases to Android phones; and an app developed in partnership with (a product of IDEAS – Web Solutions), designed to be the biggest repository of educational content, submitted by students, teachers and publishers from around the world. Other innovative value added services such as Warid’s ‘Muft Hafta’ offer are also being developed to ensure consumers feel the direct impact of progress in the telecom sector.

The convergence of mobile devices with online applications through continuous innovation is a step towards developing a services based mobile ecosystem which will usher in an era of exciting mobile communications.

Ms. Sadaf Zarrar is the Head of Marketing Communications at Warid Telecom

  • Olaround app from ufone & activation,gifting of VAS Services via facebook from Telenor were better infact! please perform a better market analysis befor writing such articles

  • it was purely a biased article towards warid telecom! no introduction to apps from other operators is presented
    I would also like to add that telecom operators have realized that sim selling has reached its peak and is not starting to decline slowly so they are focusing more on offering such apps n VAS. However, their voice performance KPIs are alarmingly low

  • to pump up mobile innovation and activity in local Pakistani market, its time for a need of upwards tariff restructure and cut in extra human resource for in market sustainability.

  • Unless operators make serious efforts in evolution of the content ecosystem, market will continue to struggle and attract limited mass uptake. Some of the challenges include:

    a) Non existence of Local app stores (operator or independent). Lack of motivation at operator or aggregator level, due to impatience on quick payback

    b) No enforcement of intellectual property rights, discouraging innovation

    c) Low revenue share for developers (local content developer can max upto Rs. 50-60k if he is very lucky to sell 20k apps, rarely happens this big!). No fixed retainer fees, no bonuses

    d) OTT (Over-the-top) players and platform app stores have much wider, and cheaper options – due to economies of scale

  • 3G/LTE is the main requirement to boost wireless technology but our government is not focusing on it at all. Once LTE is rolled out in our country then you will see flood of new applications, wireless devices and high speed technology in Pakistan. Nothing can be achieved when your market is not up to international standards. People are having iPHONE 5 in Pakistan but cant use LTE and even 3G…then what is the use of such devices and applications those are dependent on high speed.

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