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This section will give you the latest information related to the Internet, Cyber Café, CSC and eCommerce Service Industry.
Smartphone effect? Cybercafes take the exit route as losses mount

Meenakshi Rohatgi, TNN | Oct 26, 2014, 02.59AM IST



PUNE: Cybercafes in the city, which used to be the centre of youth buzz a few years back, are gradually shutting down. As per the reports, around 40% of cafes logged out of business in a year alone and experts believe that the trend will continue more so after the advent of affordable smartphones.

Currently, there are 230 cybercafes operating in the city and the number is shrinking with every passing day. Though many owners have sought government intervention, there are others who have diversified their business to cushion the losses.

With lesser number of customers frequenting the cybercafes, it is hard to even recover the basic costs such as rent and electricity charges, rue cybercafe owners. They say a substantial number of cyber cafes have shut down primarily after the advent of affordable smartphones into the country and easy internet access. "People check their mails and read word documents on their cellphones so why would they come to our shops anymore," says an owner, who recently shut the shop that he had been running for over a decade.
According to the figures released by the Cyber Cafe Association of India (CCOAI), there were 27,444 cyber cafes in the state in 2008 which dropped to 21,695 in 2011. The numbers are still declining and the latest figures show that there are only 14,000 cyber cafes left in the state.

Sachin Bichkar, owner of a cyber cafe outlet in Vishalnagar, says: "The per hour usage charges are already low and we can't increase the rates as this would drive away the few customers who are visiting us at present." We charge between Rs 15 and Rs 30 for an hour of internet usage from our customers who primarily consist of school and college students, he adds.

Many people have started alternative ventures to cover the costs of the cafes. "I started a cyber cafe as a primary source of income, however, now it has been reduced to a side business. I now lease broadband services to the areas where big providers have not been able to reach," Bichkar says.

There are others who have started renting out their systems to youngsters for LAN games. Some have even dedicated their cafes to book railway and air tickets.

A cafe owner from Pimple Saudagar says strict regulations, though good, are yet another hurdle to run a business these days. "It is a cumbersome process and we have to maintain the records for atleast a year which requires more manpower. How could anyone hire an extra hand when the business is no more profitable," he says.

Amrita Choudhury, Director of CCOAI, says: "A significant drop in the number of cyber cafes has been observed in the last one-and-a-half years. The drop could be attributed to various reasons, especially stricter restrictions by law enforcement authorities and lack of new avenues to grow business."

The 2011 IT Act, governing cyber cafes all across India, warranted these cafes to mandatorily ask for identification and store a copy of it for a year. Many a times, the customers also express concern about the security in these public internet places. Choudhury says although cyber cafes were the pioneers when internet and even personal computer penetration had just started in the country, they are often soft targets for security threat abuses.

"There was a time, when we used to charge around Rs 500 to Rs 700 just to teach people how to use the internet and get familiar with Microsoft office, but now getting license to run place is also tough," says another cafe owner.

"It is high time the authorities take notice as quite a few cafes are on the verge of closure. The cyber cafes should not be isolated, the state and central associations should come together to spread awareness on better practices, promote these as e-learning hubs and help make these centres an integral part of the e-governance schemes," says Choudhury.

Box:

Number of cybercafes in operation

Year 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

Maharashtra 27444 24949 21695 14962

India 179761 163419 142104 98002

No of cyber cafes currently in Pune: 230 ( for the period 20112-2013. This is a dip of 40% from the previous year 2011-12)

Quotes:

"First we started including gaming in our services to cover costs. Then we had to shut even the gaming section after 10 years of operation, as it was becoming tough managing the costs with the rising rent in the area. Now only a handful of systems suffice the need as most people come only printouts. "
- Owner of Xtreme, a cyber cafe in Vimannagar area.

"I learnt how to use the internet at my neighbourhood cyber cafe. It was the same place where I frequented for my first internet chats and later for preparing and sending my first cv. I later visited only when I need a printout and saw that the number of PCs were dwindling. It was sort of sad to see it shut shop two years back and a gaming zone open in its place."
- Khushboo Rane, resident of Kalyaninagar.


Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Smartphone-effect-Cybercafes-take-the-exit-route-as-losses-mount/articleshow/44936284.cms



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