mBillionth Award Press Release, July 21 2010
Dial `M’ for “Mobile for Masses” “Mobile is going to be the integral platform of digital content and citizen service delivery,” says R. Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Information Technology and also better known as father of e-governance in India. Endorsed by Chandrashekhar, DIT and Digital Empowerment Foundation have come together to create a regional platform to bring together the best of mobile content and application innovations – it is called mBillionth Award South Asia. “If the Mobility platform is expected to be the next disruption to handover the power to masses, literally, in their hands, then the day of reckoning has come – The mBillionth Award Congress, Expo & Gala on 23rd July 2010 - where some of best minds in South Asia will show case their most innovative applications, projects and initiatives that use mobile devices to deliver high impact beneficial services to masses,” explains Osama Manzar, Curator of mBillionth Award and founder director of Digital Empowerment Foundation. mBillionth Award is like a mobile movement, with partners like mint newspaper, and young VAS companies like OnMobile, IMImobile, One97 and the umbrella organisation such as IMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India). “We are in the midst of a mobile revolution that is exploding in terms of grassroots reach, mass impact and market size,” adds Subho Ray, President of IAMAI. “There are vast swathes of the Indian population whose needs may be underserved in the current scenario. The potential user base is large: mobile consumers – from rural and urban India – are eager to explore new territories that will address their need for entertainment, information and utility. From banking to healthcare, music and television to gaming, a variety of services can be offered over the mobile, enabled by the advent of affordable high-speed connectivity,” said Mr Arvind Rao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, OnMobile. Mr. Vishwanath Alluri, Chairman and CEO, IMI Mobile, said “all the companies in the VAS (Value Added Services) ecosystem clearly know that their future is here in the heart of India. 70 percent of India’s population lives in the rural areas and importantly, 64 percent of the nation’s expenditure and 56 percent of its income comes from the villages. Mobile Services next growth frontier is definitely rural India, which is triple the size of Urban Market.” “The high reach of mobile services in India coupled with recent advancements in mobile network and device technology will result in far greater internet mass adoption on the mobile as compared to any other internet-connected device in India,” said Manish Dalal, Vice President, APAC, VeriSign.
Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and managing director of One97 Communications, said that, “Mobile phones are changing the way people are living their day-to-today lives and the challenge is to transform telecom networks into an empowering media by delivering meaningful content and services to all regions & communities.” In almost all of South Asia, the population percentage coverage of mobiles in the region has reached 'critical mass' levels – Sri Lanka leads the region with 16.27 million mobiles reaching 81.35% of its population; Pakistan follows with 97.58 million mobiles covering 59.6% of the country’s population; India is almost halfway through with 584.32 million mobiles; Bhutan— 47.8% (327,000 mobiles), Maldives—46% (0.14 million mobiles); Afghanistan and Bangladesh are almost there with 35% (12.9 million mobiles) and 52.43 million (34%). The laggard is Nepal, which has covered just 23.22%, making it to only 5.77 million people. The response to the mBillionth Award nomination process has been phenomenal: more than 250 entries were received and after screening 165 nominations were successfully accepted: India – 121, Sri Lanka - 28, Bangladesh – 07, Pakistan – 05, Nepal – 03, and Maldives – 1. The 14 member Jury came up with 24 winners & 12 special mentions from 5 South Asian Countries. A large number of these nominees & winners from all across India and South Asia are getting ready to demonstrate their innovations at the mBillionth Award Exposition to a wide range of enthusiastic domestic and international delegates that include executives from telecom companies, VAS developers, ICT entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, experts and academics. “No business vertical or community will remain untouched by this pervasive mobile device: entrepreneurs from all sectors, community leaders from all regions and government officials from all departments are curious to know how they can leverage the mobility platform to cause transformational impact on areas of their impact and influence,” details out Osama Manzar. Here is a sneak preview of the mBillionth nominations - a comprehensive array of innovations across various categories. In m-Education & Learning category, Willager removes the disability barrier with an “Ability” tool that converts typed text to Sign Language animation sequence helping differently abled people to comprehend messages easily. In m-Inclusion category, One97 Communication's Dakia is a M-VAS tool which breaks the literacy barrier and empowers rural communities with relevant social / financial information; Dialog Tradenet from Sri Lanka's Dialog Telekom allows communities at the bottom of the pyramid to trade products and services; and, Mahabir Pun, 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, has been using wireless technologies to transform hilly remote areas with services like Video conferencing for telemedicine, tele-health training and HaatBazar for local e-commerce. A nomination in m-Governance category from Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST) at Sylhet in Bangladesh is “Paperless Admission System”. In m-News & Journalism category, See 'N' Report from Pakistan is a Citizen Journalism tool which enables people to report photos & videos from their cell phones.
In m-Entertainment category, OnMobile's m-Search provides music search across Voice, SMS and WAP channels with both acoustic and phonetic recognition. In m-Business & Commerce category, Comviva's mobiquity mMoney provides an end-to-end solution to manage all aspects of the remittance lifecycle, including registration, fund transfer and clearing and settlement. There is a lot to learn from these and many more early adopters of mobile technology who are among the nominations that are being showcased at the full day mBillionth Congress, Exposition and Award Gala on July 23rd at Hotel InterContinental Eros in New Delhi. There is an impressive line-up of eminent dignitaries, best practitioners, innovators and policy makers for various plenary sessions scheduled at this event to promote cross-border exchange of ideas, policy strengths and mobile advocacy. The Mobile Congress will facilitate Brainstorming Sessions with practitioners, opinion makers and experts to make critical recommendations to the government and industry in devising appropriate policies, applications and platforms. This is to enable the mobile phone ecosystem as an integral component of larger governance, development and citizen services delivery framework in India & South Asia. After the mBillionth Award distribution, the event will continue late in the evening with innovators and entrepreneurs interacting with potential investors for their ideas to grow further through mentoring and investment. Although it is gratifying to see the launch of hundreds of new innovations in Mobile related applications & services, yet we find that, before the mBillionth Award, there was no platform where such applications, gadgets and service delivery can get recognized. To fill this gap, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF, www.defindia.net) has taken the lead and started this pan South Asian mobile award christened mBillionth Award â€“ the name denoting the dream milestone of 1000 million mobile phone users and it is not far off considering the pace at which it is growing i.e. 10 to 20 million subscribers per month in a sustained growth journey. For more details contact: Maria Rizvi, mBillionth South Asia Secretariat, Digital Empowerment Foundation House No# 44, 3rd Floor, Kalu Sarai, Near Narayana IIT Academy, New Delhi-110016 +91-11-26532786/87, +91-11-46080646, firstname.lastname@example.org