To­day, peo­ple in ru­ral and semi-ur­ban ar­eas who don’t even have TVs or PCs at home are us­ing in­ter­net for the first time on a smart­phone or a tablet

The Financial Express - - FRONT PAGE - The writer is coun­try head, Sam­sung Mo­bile & IT

IN­DIA is at the cusp of its dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion jour­ney as we em­bark into 2014. Last year, we be­came the third largest coun­try in the world in ter ms of to­tal in­ter­net users as well as smart­phone users, now trail­ing be­hind China and USA. Look­ing for­ward, we ex­pect 2014 as the year of growth in­flec­tion, which will pro­pel us through as one of the fastest grow­ing mo­bile in­ter net economies.

At the core of this change is the In­dian con­sumer whose in­ter­net be­hav­iour is evolv­ing at a phe­nom­e­nal pace. Com­pa­nies that watch out for th­ese trends and adapt will be poised to cap­ture this rapid growth. The next 100 mil­lion con­nected users will de­mand mo­bile con­tent and ser­vices in lo­cal lan­guages pro­vided through an en­hanced user ex­pe­ri­ence across a range of smart de­vices at an af­ford­able to­tal cost of own­er­ship.

By end 2013, we will have close to 750 mil­lion ac­tive mo­bile SIMs, 140 mil­lion in­ter­net users on mo­biles and in ex­cess of 80 mil­lion smart con­sumer de­vices. Com­pare this to the Na­tional Tele­com Pol­icy (NTP), 2011 which en­vi­sions In­dia hav­ing 600 mil­lion mo­bile in­ter­net users by 2020, pos­si­bly sec­ond only to China by then. Still a long way to go! But, we be­lieve rapid ad­vance­ments in mo­bile net­work tech­nol­ogy, smart de­vices, con­tent ac­cess and con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment fo­cus on the dig­i­tal agenda are paving the way to­wards meet­ing this am­bi­tious NTP goal.

Ob­vi­ously, given our coun­try’s so­cio-eco­nomic de­mo­graph­ics, it is in­evitable that this growth will be fu­elled through a con­tin­ued fo­cus on af­ford­abil­ity by all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers. In the long-term, this dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion will have a mul­ti­tude of pos­i­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions on the In­dian econ­omy, so­ci­ety and over­all gov­er­nance.

As we speak, con­sumer be­hav­iour in In­dia is wit­ness­ing a sem­i­nal shift. In­dia is al­ready amongst the top 5 na­tions for Face­book, LinkedIn and Youtube users. Mo­bile de­vices are be­com­ing the pre­ferred choice for ac­cess­ing in­ter­net for many users across mul­ti­ple in­ter net prop­er­ties, for ex­am­ple, online book­ing, e-com­merce, m-bank­ing, en­ter­tain­ment as well as e-gov­er­nance. Driven by pref­er­ences cre­ated by ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy of­fer­ings, In­dian youth is chang­ing smart­phones any­where be­tween 6-18 months and are amenable to own­ing mul­ti­ple smart de­vices. It is also heart­en­ing to see that this change is not just an ur­ban-cen­tric phe­nom­e­non. To­day, peo­ple in ru­ral and semi-ur­ban ar­eas who don’t even have tele­vi­sions, PCs at home are us­ing in­ter­net for the first time on a smart­phone or a tablet.

We ex­pect growth trends for the in­dus­try to con­tinue and


pos­si­bly be en­hanced with a sta­ble eco­nomic sce­nario in place. Our 2014 es­ti­mates sug­gest hand­set in­dus­try sales to be close to 250 mil­lon units and $17 bil­lion in rev­enue, grow­ing at 45% over last year with smart­phones con­tribut­ing 75% of the value.

His­tor­i­cally, tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries in grow­ing mar­kets have typ­i­cally out­paced all an­a­lyst ex­pec­ta­tions. Look­ing ahead at the next 12 months, we be­lieve the in­dus­try will wit­ness four ma­jor trends:

Next wave of con­nected In­di­ans: 2014 would see a fresh round of spec­trum auc­tions, wide net­work roll­outs, ramp up of data ca­pac­ity and fur­ther smart­phone pro­lif­er­a­tion. With th­ese de­vel­op­ments, a large share of the new users will ac­cess in­ter­net for the first time on mo­biles. One can only briefly imag­ine all that will be achieved through in­ge­nious ways of us­ing the in­ter­net to make their lives bet­ter. In a large coun­try like In­dia, many com­pa­nies find it dif­fi­cult to build im­me­di­ate scale to ad­dress con­sumer de­mand. We be­lieve com­pa­nies like Sam­sung, with an ex­ten­sive width and depth of dis­tri­bu­tion across In­dia are well-po­si­tioned to tap this de­mand.

Lo­cal lan­guage con­tent avail­abil­ity: In­dia’s dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion will surge only with rapid de­vel­op­ment of the ver­nac­u­lar ecosys­tem. Our es­ti­mates say about 100-150 mil­lion In­di­ans can in­ter­act in English, but be­yond them, us­age of smart de­vices in lo­cal lan­guages will hold the key to fu­ture growth. We are com­mit­ted to this jour­ney early last year. Next year as well, we will con­tinue to de­liver to our con­sumers the joy of us­ing in­ter­net in a lan­guage of their choice through a wide ar­ray of ver­nac­u­lar de­vices and ex­clu­sive con- tent. And clearly, this should fur­ther add im­pe­tus to the ap­pli­ca­tion ecosys­tem growth while cater­ing to lo­cal needs.

Fo­cus on user ex­pe­ri­ence: As smart de­vices an­chor many of th­ese changes, con­sumers will de­mand su­pe­rior user ex­pe­ri­ence while con­sum­ing con­tent any­where, any­time. Tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tions in new de­vice forms, UI/UX, SoC (sys­tem-on-a-chip), hard­ware-OS in­te­gra­tion will fo­cus on mak­ing this hap­pen. There will be a ram­pant pro­lif­er­a­tion of ph­ablets and tablets as dis­tinct cat­e­gories, with the in­tent of pro­vid­ing the ‘best’ ex­pe­ri­ence at the ‘right’ screen size. The tablet mar­ket is likely to be­come more com­pet­i­tive with dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­ing driven ba­sis user ex­pe­ri­ence and bun­dled ser­vices.

Af­ford­able de­vices: Global tech­nol­ogy im­prove­ments both at the de­vice, chipset and OS-end al­ways work to­wards mak­ing the de­vice more ac­ces­si­ble to end users. Sim­i­lar to western mar­kets’ sub­sidy model, op­er­a­tor part­ner­ships will be crit­i­cal to en­cour­age smart­phone adop­tion while con­sid­er­ing lo­cal mar­ket con­straints. We have seen mar­kets sim­i­lar to ours gain in­creased mo­men­tum with a strong fo­cus on af­ford­abil­ity by OEMs, op­er­a­tors and gov­ern­ment. Lastly, part­ner­ships with banks as well as NBFCs are im­por­tant as they typ­i­cally make de­vices avail­able to the masses at lower up­front costs.

Each of the ecosys­tem play­ers has a dif­fer­ent stake through this dig­i­tal jour­ney. But the one who needs to ben­e­fit the most, is the con­sumer. To make this hap­pen, all play­ers in the In­dian ecosys­tem—de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers, tele­com op­er­a­tors, equip­ment and in­fra­struc­ture providers, con­tent & ser­vices play­ers—along with the gov­ern­ment must work to­gether. We will need to build on the mo­men­tum we gained in 2013 and in­vest fur­ther to re­alise the 2020 dream. There are surely ex­cit­ing times ahead for us, as we em­bark into the next year.



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