Some idea of the challenges faced by most mobile service providers is heavy discounting of even the most-important new services, offered over the latest platforms. Consider that, in India, always a hugely competitive market, Idea Cellular may soon launch promotional mobile data offers lasting one to 1.5 years that offer unlimited free mobile data for 4G customers. Idea also might offer free international incoming calls. To make the obvious observation, it always is hard to sell what others give away.
Those moves would counter Reliance Jio’s free mobile data offers, which run until March 2017. Bharti Airtel already has matched Jio’s offer by providing 3 GB extra data every month till December 2017.
Such promotional offers should never be mistaken as indicating direct shifts in the level of “permanent pricing.” On the other hand, rarely–if ever–do such promotional offers allow “every day” pricing levels to climb back to prior levels. Such offers are indicators of increased competitive pressure, leading to pricing declines, over the longer term. And that is very likely to be the result of all the promotional activity.
Average revenue per account in the Indian mobile market has, in fact, been declining for some years.
The Indian mobile service provider market has been in a state of disruption for several years, with Idea Cellular displacing Reliance Communications as the third-largest Indian mobile company, ranked by subscribers. The next big changes will involve mergers that could again reshape the leader ranks, and the emergence of Reliance Jio within the top-10 ranks in 2017.
Longer term, most observers believe Reliance Jio will be a threat to the mobile market leaders.