In its newest localization efforts, Uber has partnered with Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecom company, to provide free in-car WiFi for riders in India. This partnership also offers discounted phone plans for drivers and allows them to accept payments through Airtel Money, Bharti’s own digital payment system. Usually struggling with patchy mobile internet coverage and costly mobile plans, users in India (and other developing countries) will no doubt welcome this new offer.
What Brands Can Do
Although unlikely to be introduced in the US any time soon, Uber’s new partnership in India does point to a future where on-demand rides come with their own Wi-Fi offers, which would naturally open up new in-car advertising and targeting opportunities for brands to go along for the ride.
Source: New York Times
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Amazon has expanded Prime Now, its one-hour delivery service for Prime members, to London. An update to the Prime Now app notes the services is now “available in selected London postcodes”. This is the first foray for Prime Now outside the U.S., which first launched in Manhattan last December, which puts Amazon in direct competition with local on-demand delivery services such as Weengs.
Similarly, the ecommerce giant also announced new expansion for its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform in India. Encouraged by the “ huge potential in the Indian economy and for the growth of e-commerce in India”, the Seattle-based company plans to open a new data center in the growing market in 2016. This marks Amazon’s first expansion in India, and, combined with the expansion of Prime Now service, signals an accelerated ambition in Amazon’s global development.
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Following recent launches in Colombia and several African countries, Facebook’s charitable plan of entering emerging global mobile markets continues, with India becoming the newest country to receive free mobile Internet services provided by Facebook’s Internet.org project. Partnered with local operator Reliance, the service is currently limited to six states, but Facebook states that it is looking to provide Internet access to over one billion unconnected Indian consumers soon.
Editor’s Note: This marks the first entry of our new publishing series “Global Watch”, where we look at the emerging markets around the world and highlight stories that feature new, disruptive media and technology.
Hike is a messaging app that is gaining popularity among the young people in India. The reason? The app tailors its features to the unique reality of India’s emerging market.
For one, it prioritizes the privacy of its users. It is culturally common for young folks in India to live with their parents until marriage, and the special Hidden Mode of Hike makes it harder for nosy parents and siblings to snoop around their private messages. In addition, Hike supports sending messages between smartphones and “dumb” phones, giving it another big advantage in India, where the majority of mobile users still use phones with limited Internet capability.
With $86 million investment from telecomm companies like Bharti and SoftBank, Hike is not thinking about monetization yet. Less than two years old, Hike’s free app currently has more than 35 million users. And it still has plenty of room to grow, as the Indian market has more than 1 billion mobile subscribers and no single dominant messaging app.
As far as the number of active users is concerned, India is pushing to overtake the U.S. as Facebook’s biggest market. As of march 31, there are over 100 million active users in the country, whose increasing population of mobile phone subscribers means that Facebook can aspire to get into those phones in the near future. Though India might become Facebook’s biggest market, getting money out of those users is always a challenge, as large user markets aren’t always the biggest drivers of revenue. That said, Facebook’s push to increase revenue in user markets outside of the US has yielded a revenue per user increase of $2.14, chiefly powered by 33% growth in Europe and 17% rise in Asia. And as access to the network continues to be dominated by mobile users globally, the push to break the 1 billion mark in India, in conjunction with smartphone use rise, means that Facebook will be focusing much of its ad spend – its lead driver of revenue – through mobile platforms and markets.
Increasingly, brands that serve BRIC will need to pay closer attention to mobile platforms.