Authored by: “Mr. Nitin Goel, Head – Digital Services, Intex Technologies”
Smartphones. We love them. We live with them. We wake up to this addictive screen and fall asleep to it. One idle moment in our lives, and we whip out this powerful device from our pockets and get glued to the screen.
So, let’s think about it. What problems is this small yet powerful device solving for us? Communication? Entertainment? Access to Essential Services? Everything! This is one thing that has catapulted India’s growth on the Digital front. No wonder more than 70% of India’s Internet traffic comes from Mobile Phones.
I remember my first mobile phone in the mid 90’s. It was essentially a big, bulky cordless phone that I could carry anywhere. The SIM card was the size of current day credit cards. Oh, and not to forget, I was paying up to 16 bucks a minute for making AND receiving calls. Phew!
Now, look at your Smartphone today. Wait – are you reading this article one? So it’s your Newspaper, Television, Radio, Game Board, Photo Album, Music Player, Yoga Guru, Navigator (how I miss asking the local small shop for directions!). This utility list is never-ending. I’m sure nobody can list all the things that a Smartphone can do today, thanks to the seemingly infinite number of apps available.
So what turned Martin Cooper’s big, bulky, anywhere cordless phone into what it looks today? Simple – Value Added Services (VAS, as it is popularly known). From pay per download movie songs to the widely popular Crazy Frog ringtone, from SMS in its simplest form to today’s rich media enabled messengers, from the good old Snake game to today’s highly interactive, engaging games, VAS has enabled a huge transition in the way that this device is put to use. Availability and affordability of Mobile Data have enhanced usage and engagement. Hope you’re still not using a plastic or wooden ruler because there’s an app for that!
So, is VAS (value-added service) good? Of course, one would think so! Let’s see what’s good and bad about it.
On the upside, VAS is enabling people to
• Do things with much less effort, with more convenience
• Remove distances and communicate instantly
• Consume content on demand, enhancing entertainment experience
• Enable digital financial transactions without the need to visit a bank (this one is big on the Government’s agenda)
• Create a lot of employment with tech startups and heavy investments in this domain
But, like everything else, it has a downside too
• Increased usage is causing turmoil in our lifestyle (have you seen kids playing in parks lately?)
• Causing us to give away too much information about ourselves, creating security threats
• Causing other problems due to excessive usage (texting while driving happens to be one of the biggest reasons for fatal car crashes)