I came across a very interesting number recently. 59% of India’s internet population use mobile as the only device to access internet; with a substantial number of them in rural India and Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. To put things in perspective, India adds a population of the size of Russia every year to its mobile internet subscriber base!
India’s mobile internet traffic has already surpassed the desktop internet traffic. This makes me think. What could have caused such a massive mobile internet and connectivity transformation in India?
Could it be Micromax? No seriously! With its cost effective dual-sim large screen phones which sell like hot cakes across the Indian Subcontinent, the company has literally opened up the world of internet to a whole lot of population. Reliance was the first to bring about a telecom revolution in India with its network services, and now Micromax is at it, with a vision to put an internet enabled phone in every Indian’s hand. It might well be the company to put internet in the hands of the next billion.
Micromax was started in 2005 as a typical Software Services company. However, things changed when one of the co-founders Rahul Sharma saw an Airtel pay phone being run on a truck battery in a power starved city of Baharampur in West Bengal. From there they set out to solve this problem and created Micromax X1i, world’s first phone to have a battery backup of 1 month. There has been no looking back since. According to research conducted by IDC, with a 22% market share, Micromax is the second largest player in the humongous Indian mobile phone market. Micromax shipped more than two million smartphones just last quarter.
According to certain estimates, Micromax will overtake Samsung sometime this year as the largest smart phone brand in India! Quarter on quarter trends have shown inexorable march of Micromax (and Karbonn) taking bigger and bigger share of the pie in the Indian smartphone market. They seem to have a better understanding of Indian consumer’s psyche and have offerings tailor-made to their needs and aspirations.
If you look closely, there is no other consumer electronics or consumer appliances company from India that has come out as a market leader in its segment; maybe Voltas in air conditioning and Onida and Videocon in televisions. But apart from that, there isn’t much to talk about among Indian hardware companies.
For a long time, India, world’s second largest mobile phone market, was dominated by foreign players. Finally, we are at a stage where substantial number of phones sold in India will be made by indigenous manufacturers and brands. Not just India, these companies are now gearing up for world domination and rise as challengers to the incumbents. Micromax is now exporting its phones to countries like Russia. It already sells its phones in countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, UAE and Brazil! India has traditionally been a laggard in hardware technology. Heck, we don’t have a single semiconductor FAB in India whereas China boasts more than 25 of them. Even Israel has a few owing to massive investments made by Intel. A few years back it was great to see good people at Notion Ink taking a shot at the tablet market with rather impressive amounts of institutional funding. However, it didn’t come through everyone’s expectations and was lost in the barrage of supposedly ‘iPad killer’ products.
At a time when hardware and wearable tech and Internet of Things (IoT) is in rogue, it is a great reminder to entrepreneurs and innovators that there are large successes and they might as well be able to do it. Will Micromax inspire the next generation of hardware startups to become large enterprises and prepare for a world dominion? Only time will tell. In the meantime, our eyes are set on GetActive, Intugine, Gecko, and RHL Vision. We will have to wait and see if Indian entrepreneurs and investors warm up to wearable tech and Internet of Things.
What do you think? Can you see Micromax becoming a global leader? I am eagerly awaiting your responses.