I wrote about how the “Auto-Rickshaw” saw stagnant innovation in the last two decades of playing active role in commuting across the country. In this post, I will be short and sweet on my observations in mobile space.
I am fortunate to be part of HeadStart, a not-for-profit organization working towards building entrepreneurial eco-system in India. We have been active more close to one-and-half years and during 2008, I interacted with many entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs.
Quite a few of the entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs I met are into mobile space and working on one feature or the other. Many are quite optimistic of the solutions they provide and how the end-user can benefit by their innovation. Even the potential investors are very active in mobile space.
Well, being an active GPRS user, I am happy to try various applications and how friendly they are to me. I love the BTIS map on my mobile and the Google search tool bar which really helps to me quickly search for what I want. There are a whole range of mobile products which come in handy too. Fring is one application which is useful for people who which to be connected to friends all the time and Twitter has made its mark.
There are other useful applications being developed too. Take a look at Numo, a mobile platform for BulkSMS and SMS Reminders for key aspects of life (Health, Pet Health etc).
I do not have a list off my finger-tips to share with you the other innovative ideas, but would like to focus on a simple case study and Destructive Innovation coming from a major player in search – Google.
Population of Bangalore is around 62 Lakhs (6.2 Million). For benefit of this illustration, let us consider that 100% of the population carries a mobile. In the 100%, let us assume that 50% (3.1 Million)use GPRS service. In the 50% user base of GPRS users, how many actually take time to search for a particular service / product in the area they are currently located? I am not under-estimating, but let us assume that around 50% of the 50% GPRS users use the service, which brings the number close to 1.5 Million (1,500,000). This is a classic example of the Bottom of the Pyramid concept. We are looking at the top of the pyramid user base and estimating the idea to be changing the way we live. What we need to remember here is the middle and bottom of the pyramid users who are not even knowing about the service. So, the target population for a value added service on mobile (with GPRS account) is very less.
Google, on the contrary came up with an innovative solution – Voice Search. This search is already launched in Hyderabad, India. We have other search companies like – Just-Dial etc, and differentiating the search is up to you, as a user. Now, this is what I call Destructive Innovation. Just look at the outreach for this value added service – it is 100% of the users. Added to the service, the number users have to call is a toll free number too. In simple words, without spending a single penny, any mobile user can use this service. How different!
Innovation is just not about an idea reaching the end user, but how well it dissolves in the DNA of the system is what need to be identified.