Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's India, Stupid!

MUMBAI-It is hardly news-India is the fastest-growing market in the world for mobile telephony, with over 240 million mobile subscribers as at Autumn 2007. According to The Economist, the average owner of a mobile phone there spends 471 minutes (8 hours approx.) on the phone each month and sends 39 text messages. India is also a mobile market marked by savage competition (during my visit to Delhi last autumn, it was hard not to notice the proflagation of billboards advertising various operators on each street corner) as well as a country blessed with an army of bright, young engineers.

Mobiance, was founded in 2004 by three such engineers in IIT's Mumbai's SINE incubator, and is a provider of Location Based Services (LBS) that don't use GPS -instead it uses triangulation from cell towers to detect the location of the mobile user (those of you into spy movies may be familiar with this method used on screen to track the bad guy's location).

Mobiance got their first break soon after being founded, by piloting their technology to track the fleet of a company that serviced gasoline pumps at various stations in the country. Having signed an agreement with one of India's leading mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, they now have the capability to track the location of any of their subscribers who gives them permission to do so (either for consumer or business applications).

Mobiance CEO, Deepak Srinivasan, recently gave a talk expressing how India offers unique challenges for LBS, including poor quality mapping. As anyone who has visited India's capital will know, getting around the city (or its suburbs) ain't easy, so Mobiance's value to its customer is clear to see.

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