India and the US: Internet and mobile devices at the turn of 2012

Tech analysts are busy spotting future trends as 2011 comes to a close. In India, consensus seems to be on three grounds. One, the mobile market here is set to change radically. Two, the battle worth tracking is between market leader Nokia and its fast growing competitor Samsung that is riding high on its smartphones. Third, Internet usage is going to drive the mobile phone landscape.
At this juncture, a new US study I came across last week on Internet traffic through mobile phones and connected devices, mainly tablets, reveals an interesting contrast between the markets in America and India.
In the US, and also in the UK and Singapore, seven per cent of the total Internet usage happens through devices other than computers. Nearly 70 per cent of this usage is done through mobile phones. In India, the non-computer Internet traffic is 3.7 per cent, with nearly 90 per cent coming through mobile phones.
Talking about devices. Six in every 10 mobile phones in the US are smartphones. Latest industry data show just one in every 20 mobile phones in India is a smartphone.
That takes us to the leading market players. Nokia leads with a 35 per cent share of the Indian market. Samsung is close behind with 25 per cent, and catching up fast with its android phones. Blackberry trails with a nearly 20 per cent share, while IPhone is hardly a significant player.
By contrast, in US three in every ten mobile phones is an Android smartphone, and two in 10 an Iphone. A main reason for the relatively lower popularity of these two smartphones in India is that high-speed Internet service is too costly and too slow to enable users utilise these phones to their full capacity.
With service providers making their data plans more competitive, 2012 could mark a radical shift in the Indian mobile market.


Thoughts On Media Convergence

Print journalists like me who are looking to diversify to multi-platform news delivery are likely to struggle to understand the scope, extent and forms of convergence. A new course reading I studied this week offers great insight into this phenomenon. My thoughts…
Convergence is taking shape in broadly five ways globally. First, ownership convergence. It is an arrangement in which a news organisation operating on a variety of platforms, like print and broadcast, converges its arms to offer an alternate, all-in-one platform.
Back in India, this is perhaps the most popular. The textbook example is the country’s leading newspaper, The Times of India. It’s online avatar carries content from and actively promotes its sister news channel Times Now. It even publicises the other media outlets that its holding company operates.
Tactical Convergence. It means when different media groups working on different platforms converge on an all-in-one platform as part of better business strategy. It’s about collaborating expertise purely for marketting gains, with little or no synergy of editorial planning between organisations.
A third form, structural convergence, is one where a media organisation reorganises its cadres to introduce digital journalism in its system and procedures.
A fourth form, information gathering convergence, will perhaps interest individual journalists the most. It requires the journalist, irrespective of his specialisation, to report on multiple platforms. It’s an advanced form of convergence, little known in India. Also called Inspector Gadget convergence, where a journalist is expected to acquire storytelling skills across platforms.
The last form is the storytelling or presentation convergence. But whichever form it takes, convergence should follow this general theory:

“Convergence always costs more than you think it will, takes longer than you think it will, and is more difficult to do than you think it will be’ — Professor James Gentry

Journalism Blues? Not yet, at least in India

Here’s a nice, funny video about an old school journalist getting nostalgic about “his times” as the Internet and tech-heavy modern-day journalism redefines the profession. I guess this guy should take the first flight to India if he wants to feel any better.
The pad and the pen, the gatekeeping and the who, what, where and when are still very much in vogue with journalists in this part of the world. A newspaper journalist is still referred to as a “print” journalist and the one walking around with a camera is a “TV reporter”.
Indian journalism is still largely untouched by the Internet euphoria that has caught on seemingly in every other country. I don’t say the industry here is not trying to broaden journalism platforms. But when compared with global advances in this direction, the efforts back in India are simply far and few.
“What’s that”. My colleagues and fellow journalists would ask me, with a puzzled look on their face, whenever I told them I am pursuing a course in multimedia journalism. Multi-platform journalism is not only less popular here but also little known.
Part of the reason obviously is technology constraints. Latest industry research estimates just one in every 10 of the nearly 1.2 billion Indians accesses Internet. And of the 112 million countrywide Internet users, only 90 million claim to use the web at least once a month. Out of the 14.7 million Internet connections, only 11.9 million are broadband. Multi-platform innovation in journalism just doesn’t have sufficient users here.
But print and broadcast industry leaders and pioneers are still trying to broaden their platforms with whatever scope they have. But online content is still limited to the “copy-and-paste” format, focussing on simple news curation across platforms.


Ravi Bajpai is a 29-year-old print journalist based in Indian capital Delhi. Ravi started his career in 2004 and he currently works as a Special Correspondent for one of India’s oldest national daily newspapers, The Indian Express. Ravi writes on governance and politics and also manages a group of young correspondents as a team leader at the newspaper’s Delhi news bureau. Ravi was earlier the Deputy Bureau Chief in Delhi for the popular morning daily Mail Today, a joint venture of the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail and the India Today Group. Prior to this, Ravi has reported extensively on crime, courts, civic governance and urban planning as a correspondent with one of India’s leading daily newspapers, Hindustan Times.

Ravi completed his graduation in English Literature from the Delhi University and went on to study journalism during post-graduation. He is currently studying multimedia journalism in the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Having worked in the newspaper industry for seven years, Ravi is keenly looking forward to diversifying as a modern-day journalist and equipping himself for multimedia story telling.