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 PakWheels.com, which brings auto sales and purchases to Android phones; and an app developed in partnership with Jiammi.com (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