India’s Mobile Market: How it Works

Bundeep Singh Rangar of Ariadne Capital quotes Sunil Mittal of Bharti Televentures,”I want us to be 12-18 months behind the rest of the world mobile phone market.”
Why? India works differently. The Indian market is about not being innovative or having the best solution in town; it’s about old-fashioned notion of price-point. It’s about deploying technology where the low enough price-point makes it to mass market. People in India need a mobile phone that works; a mobile phone for an average Indian consumer is essentially an uncorded landline phone. And like the landline phone it does not need to have voice mail, 3-way calling, color display, or a WAP browser (The caller-id is necessary though).
Reliance Infocomm, understands it well, and this made the Mobile Phone Revolution happen. Other companies like Bharti have followed suit and have now captured 20% of the Indian Mobile market.
The formula seems to be working, the calls are cheap — 2 cents/minute anywhere, anytime. Bells and whistles are cheaper too; a ringtone is only 15 cents to 20 cents compared to at least 99 cents in US.
As a result, investors are flocking to the market. Bharti Tele-Ventures gave its investor Warburg Pincus a near 6X return on its $300 million investment.
Top up it up with a huge demand for content; it is “hip” to open your day with an SMS containing a Shloka1 (link to original scripture in Sanskrit, may not work in all browsers) from Bhagavad Gita, followed by read/forward of the latest Santa & Banta or Ajit jokes.
1 Sankhya Yog or “the Doctrines”, is the most read chapter of Bhagavad Gita. This chapter talks about work and how the focus of oneself should be on work and not about reaping the fruits of it. The English translation of chapter 2 can be read here.

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