• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [+]Latin America (13)
    • [+]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [+]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [—]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [+]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)


Cell phones

Despite the efforts of public and private bodies, neither fixed Internet connections nor e-readers, or tablets have mass penetration in India today. As occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, the only devices that are found on a wide scale are cell phones. In late 2010, India had around 752 million cell phone users, and to give an idea of the rate of expansion in this market, in December of that year alone, they were joined by 22.62 million new subscribers.[1]

One of the keys to this growth is related to the existence of companies – both local and foreign – that manage to adapt their models to the local reality. For example, in August 2010, the Indian company Wynncom – based in Gurgaon – announced the launch of the Y45, the first cell phone with an analogue keyboard in Hindi:[2] the device also has an application that enables the user to send messages free of charge to the rest of India, as well as to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The dizzying progress of mobile devices has also led many Web portals to adapt their interfaces to these appliances and offer content in regional languages. The site OneIndia can already be accessed from mobile phones and read in English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. As B.G. Mahesh, the CEO of OneIndia, points out:

Just 12% of Indians are comfortable with English, the rest, which happens to be the majority, want language content.[3]

Cell phone operators themselves are among the most dynamic actors in written content distribution today. Vodafone, for example, markets an entire series of Momics (mobile comics), which it includes in the “Movies and Television” section of its website. Most of these comics deal with Indian mythology and can be downloaded by sending an SMS.

At the same time, India has seen the emergence of veritable factories producing content designed for mobile devices, such as Mogaé Digital. Nevertheless, the most noteworthy example is MobileVeda, a start-up whose headquarters is in Vellore and which, since 2006, has carried out various telephone publishing projects. One of these initiatives is Fublish, a download platform for free books in Tamil, in both written and audio format.[4] Seed, another of MobileVeda’s offerings, is a library of 1000 titles in Tamil and English compressed onto a memory chip which sells for 11 dollars. According to Ganesh Ram, the head of the venture, this idea will help reveal the hidden capabilities of mobiles phones and bring about a positive change among users, but without taking the typical route of offering them mere entertainment. In general terms, MobileVeda’s objective is:

… to constantly innovate and develop solutions for our local market that should exceed or at least be on a par with the current trend in the international arena, provided in a cost-effective manner.[5]

There are even traditional publishing companies that have undertaken explorations with mobile phones. In July 2009, HarperCollins India, in association with the operator Reliance Communications, announced the launch of the novel Deaf Heaven, by the famous local writer Pinki Virani, through text messages and audio files.[6] Similarly, the publishing house Penguin – which has a significant presence in India – has distributed books through the mobile network, thanks to an alliance with the operator Mobifusion.[7]


  1. Cf. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India: Telecom Subscription Data as on 31st December 2010, 9th February, 2011.
  2. Cf. Achalla, Venu: “Wyncomm Gives India Its First Hindi Qwerty Mobile Phone”, WAT Blog, 28th August, 2010.
  3. Cf. Waghre, Prateek: “OneIndia.in Goes Mobile In 5 Indian Languages With NewsHunt”, WAT Blog, 10th November, 2010. Internet access from mobile phones is usually obtained using smartphones, but a recent development by HP in India could give even the most basic appliances the chance to access the Web, through SMS. Cf. “HP Labs India”, Hewlett Packard Development Company.
  4. The site offers a mobile phone screen emulator. The following link shows how a text in Tamil would look: MicroEmulator.
  5. Cf. “PUBLISH is passé; get ready to FUBLISH”, openPR, 26th November, 2007.
  6. Cf. Adil, Sahar: “Pinki Virani’s ‘Deaf Heaven’ in Audio-Mobile Book”, My Bangalore, 13th July, 2009.
  7. Cf. “Mobifusion in the News”, Mobifusion.


  1. thierry quinqueton

     /  27/08/2011

    750 millions d’utilisateurs de mobiles fin 2010… certainement plus de 800 millions maintenant…


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