India to have second largest online user-base after China by 2016

Availability of low-cost smartphones and increasing penetration of mobile broadband will help India overtake the US as the world’s second largest Internet user-base by  2016, research firm eMarketer said. According to the US-based firm, India’s online population will touch 283.8 million by 2016, leaving behind the US at 264.9 million in the same period. eMarketer predicts that by 2018 India will have 346.3 million Internet users against the US’ 274.1 million. China, which has the world’s largest Net users, will continue to retain its position with a little over 700 million by 2016 and 777 million by 2018, it added. “Inexpensive mobile phones and mobile broadband connections are driving Internet access and usage in countries where fixed Internet has been out of reach for  consumers, whether that’s due to lack of infrastructure or affordability,” eMarketer Senior Forecasting Analyst Monica Peart said.

onlineWhile highly developed markets are nearly saturated in terms of Internet users, there is a significant room for growth in emerging ones, she said, adding that India and Indonesia will both see double-digit growth in each year between now and 2018. “By 2016, India will jump the US as the second-largest Internet user population,” eMarketer said. Globally, Internet users will surpass 3 billion in 2015, increasing by 6.2 per cent to reach 42.4 per cent of the entire world’s population, it added. This year, the Internet will reach more than two in five people in the world for the first time as online audience hits 2.89 billion users globally, it said. By 2018, eMarketer estimates that nearly half the world’s population, 3.6 billion people, will access the Internet at least once each month.
However, a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India(IAMAI) and IMRB International predicts that India will overtake the US as the second-largest Internet  user base in the world by December 2014. The number of Internet users in India is expected to grow 32 per cent to 302 million this year from 213 million at the end of December last year, it has said. According to IAMAI-IMRB report, presently China leads with more than 600 million Internet users, while the US has an estimated 279 million users.

– ET

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Belgium apples, pears enter India via tie-up with Yupaa Group

Belgium, India’s second largest trading partner in the European Union, is entering the country for the first time with its fruit basket with a marketing and  distribution tie-up with Yupaa Group. “Initially, we are entering with Belgian apples and pears in the Indian fruit markets. The fruits varieties – Joly Red Apples and Conference Pear – are grown and cultivated in Belgium and are sold under the brand ‘TRUVAL’,” Belgische Fruitveiling (BFV) Chief Marketing Officer and Market Development Officer Marc Evrard told PTI. With more than 1,200 members, BFV is the largest cooperation of fruit growers.

yupaa“We have signed a marketing and distribution agreement with the Yupaa Group, leading fruit grower, importer and distributer, to make Belgian fruits available across  the country. We grow several varieties of apples and pears. We also grow berries like cherries, strawberries and raspberries among others. Depending on the response,  we will extend our export of fruits,” he said. Since the exchange rates are favourable now, the Belgian fruits will be made available at competitive price, he added. Yupaa Group Chairman Ambrish Karvat said the company is initially targeting all metro cities in the country and will then move on to tier II and tier III cities for  the Belgian apples and pears. “We are looking at about 1,000 tonne for the ‘Joly Reds’ and 100 tonne for the ‘Conference Pears’ in the first fiscal year. The apples and pears will be available at  an introductory retail price of Rs 160 to Rs 180 per kg, respectively, at leading retail stores as well as street vendors across the country,” he added. Yupaa imports more than 12 million kg of fresh fruits from all over the world, including New Zealand, China, Iran, South Africa and the US among others.

– ET

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Mobile wallet market to cross Rs 1,200 crore by 2019

The infant mobile wallet market in India is estimated to grow over three-fold to Rs 1,210 crore in the next five years, buoyed by rising smartphone users and entry of newer players into the sector. According to a study by research and consultancy firm RNCOS, the current Indian market size for mobile wallet (m-wallet) stands at about Rs 350 crore and is estimated  to rise to Rs 1,210 crore by 2019. “M-wallet market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 30 per cent in the next five years from 2015-2019. This is mainly due to increase in the demand for smartphones, which is estimated to grow at a higher pace, and rising mobile internet users, which has grown at 92 per cent in 2013,” RNCOS said in the report.

mobile walletAny smartphone user can install m-wallet application in the handset and can create own log in account. They will get a permanent pin number for utilising m-wallet services. RNCOS said: “M-wallet has a high capacity as an alternative to traditional and current payment systems in India. Growth observed in m-commerce sector in India has  moved its payment systems to mobile devices.” Some other reasons attributed to the high growth of the segment include higher working population engaged in banking and online purchasing of products, discounts  offered by firms to attract customers in festive seasons for purchase through m-wallet and expansion of service portfolios by the companies. Market of m-wallet segment includes transferring of money, services related to banking transactions, value added services such as shopping, ticketing, recharging and bill payments, the study pointed out. In the segment, the highest 38 per cent market share is captured by money transfer businesses, followed by recharge and bill payments and utilities areas by 30 per
cent and 12 per cent respectively. Others enjoy 20 per cent market share. Despite its promising future, the m-wallet segment is facing challenges in India such as alternative money transfer channels, lack of awareness, stringent policies on  restriction of cash-out facility, low margins and poor internet connectivity in many areas, the study said. Some of the major m-wallet players are Airtel Money, mRupee, Vodafone m-Pesa, Oxigen Wallet, Paytm, Mobikwik and Idea Money.

– ET

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Reliance Entertainment plans to acquire Western game studios in 2015

Reliance Entertainment plans to begin acquiring North American and European mobile game studios starting in early 2015, in hopes of becoming a significant global player in the fast-growing mobile games industry. The company, which is the biggest stakeholder in DreamWorks Animation Studios, is in talks with bankers to identify and acquire up-and-coming mobile game studios in  North America and Europe to boost sales, Chief Executive Manish Agarwal told Reuters in a phone interview. “We will go full steam in the January and February time frame in terms of identifying studios,” Agarwal said. “Gaming is going to be the largest share of the pie of
entertainment time spent, and Reliance would like to be a sizeable player in that space.” Reliance Entertainment is a unit of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, one of largest conglomerates, with businesses ranging from financial services to infrastructure and
power. Its Reliance Games unit is looking at smaller studios at $2 million to $5 million a pop, at least initially, according to Agarwal.
Agarwal said the potential for Reliance Games is “huge.”

reliance entertainment“In three years, our business will make $50 million in net revenue, and in five years we’ll be a $100 million company,” he said. Net revenue is after cuts taken by app  stores from Google, Apple and others. Reliance Games, which to date has focused on making titles related to Hollywood properties in partnership with studios such as Warner Bros, Sony and Lions Gate, hopes  to use acquisitions to expand into other genres, Agarwal said. Genres of interest include real-time action strategy akin to Supercell’s “Clash of Clans,” puzzlers like  King’s “Candy Crush Saga,” builder games like Supercell’s “Boom Beach,” and social casino games. Reliance Games develops its own titles at its Pune-based studio in India as well as partnering with other game studios. With about 50 million downloads, its most successful game franchise has been “Real Steel,” with action titles based on the DreamWorks movie with the same name featuring Hugh Jackman. In the face of competition from larger and more seasoned players such as King and Japan’s GungHo Online Entertainment, Reliance has yet to make waves in a competitive  mobile gaming space that investors worry is a fickle, hit-driven business. Agarwal, who did not identify targets, made it clear that Reliance does not want studios that could be one-hit wonders, such as OMGPOP, which was acquired by Zynga for  $200 million but shut down over a year later. Reliance Games wants nimble studios of five to 12 members and that are “one game away from creating that elusive hit and looking to scale,” Agarwal said. “If the game is already doing good, the shelf life of the game could be six to 12 months.” Currently, about 70 percent of Reliance Game’s revenue comes from North America, the UK, Russia and Korea, and about 20 percent from India, mostly from games offered
through telecom carriers rather than app stores.

“For us, it is not an India story as yet as the opportunity lies in growing globally, Agarwal said. “India is the fastest growing market in terms of Android and gaming  is going to compete with TV watch. … What China is today, India will be in the next 24 to 36 months.”

– ET

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Government identifies 12 locations for setting up new solar parks

A step ahead in the government’s ambitious plan of setting up 25 solar parks, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified 12 locations in various states where such power projects can come up. The scheme envisages setting up of 25 solar parks over the next five years with a total capacity of around 20,000 mw, with each park housing a plant with a capacity  ranging from 500-1,000 mw. The installed solar capacity has touched 3,000 mw in the country, according the latest ministry data, and the government aims to increase it to 100,000 mw by 2022. “We have identified 12 locations so far and are in the process of finalising the draft proposal for the same,” MNRE Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor told PTI. He said they will soon sent the draft to the Cabinet for approval post which the bidding process could be started.

solar parksThe locations identified are in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Odisha and Punjab, Kapoor said adding that even Mizoram has expressed willingness to set up a park. “Andhra Pradesh has proposed to have a 2,500 mw park, Telangana 1,000 mw, MP is keen to have two parks of 750 mw each, Karnataka a 750 mw park, Rajasthan has  identified land to set up projects as big as 4,000-5,000 mw and Odisha and Punjab to have around 3,000 mw each,” he said. The ministry has cited parks in Gujarat and Rajasthan as models for the proposed solar parks. “We already have two solar parks, with one each in Gujarat and Rajasthan as models for the parks to be constructed as part of the scheme. The new parks would be based  on the similar model,” Kapoor said. The solar parks would be developed in collaboration with state governments while Solar Energy Corporation of India would be the implementation agency on behalf of the Centre. “A solar park is a concentrated zone wherein the government will provide land and basic infrastructure for setting up the plant as well as evacuation of power. Developers, on the other hand, will have to enter into power purchase agreements with distribution companies before setting up the plant,” Kapoor added. The government has made an allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the development of ultra large solar projects and parks, for this fiscal.

– ET

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