Domesticity: Handsets, applications, equipment, and software


Disclaimer: YourStory is the media partner for Mobile India.

While the “Make in India” campaign is at its feverish pitch, the mobile ecosystem is looking for winds of change. With the increased penetration of smartphones, and the growth in adoption of mobile-enabled solutions, players across the value chain are looking at products and solutions that are created primarily for the Indian market.

Following Table provides an overview of the telecom subscriber base in India.

Telecom subscriber base in India

Total Subscribers (in Millions)












Teledensity (per 100 population)












Share of Urban Subscribers




Share of Rural Subscribers




As indicated in the above table, apart from growth in subscriber base in the urban areas, rural areas have also seen substantial growth. A significant disruption in terms of users switching from feature phones to Smartphone is in the offing this year.

Sunder Pichai’s new initiatives including Google’s Android One reference platform tie-ups with domestic manufactures such as Micromax and Karbonn has given a positive signal to Domesticity in the handset market. Though firms like Mircomax and Karbonn have ousted the multinationals such as Motorola, and Nokia from the top spots in the Indian handset market, Xiaomi, Gionee and Oppo are looming threateningly with flash sales of millions in 2.4 to 5 seconds. However with a run rate of more than 15 million Smartphones per quarter, and the expected user device market to be worth about Rs. 95,000 crores (as per Voice & Data estimates) there seems to place for many firms, as long as their products are differentiated. Following figure illustrates the share of Smartphone market in India as per IDC estimates.

Share of Smartphone Market in India

In the equipment market nothing much has changed though the previous government announced “Preferential Market Access” policies towards encouraging domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment. As per Voice & Data estimates, for every rupee spent on telecom infrastructure, the industry earns about Rs. 1.19 in India. Though the telecom equipment market in India for both carrier and enterprises is about Rs.50,000 crores (excluding passive infra), the multinationals still dominate.

However, for the first time, there is hope in the telecom software and applications space. With low entry barriers, the mobile app economy is booming not only in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Mumbai, but also in Trivandrum, Pune, and Indore. The government has put entrepreneurship in focus by announcing a Rs10,000-crore corpus to support early stage ventures. This apart from similar pledges by venture capital firms such as that of Japanese telecom giant SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son for an investment of $10 billion in India’s IT and communications space. The burgeoning e-commerce market places provide another area for the mobile developer community to make a mark through innovative applications, data analytics and visualization tools. True winners such as Hike InMobi and Nimbuzz have started shaping up the industry. In addition, innovative, locally-focused mobile-based solutions are being rolled out in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, education as well as governance.

Following table indicates the funding raised by some of the India based “mobile first” tech ventures in 2014.

Funding of “Mobile First” tech ventures in 2014

VentureTypeInvestorFund Amount
HikeInstant Messaging

Tiger Global

$65 million
FreeChargeMobile recharging platform

Sequoia, Sofina, others

$33 million
NewsHuntMobile based news aggregation platform

Sequoia, Matrix, Omidyar

$18 million
OctroMobile gaming platform


$15 million

The need of the hour is an orchestra that coordinates the above different wheels of the cog, to make the “Make in India” campaign successful, whether it be handsets, equipment or content. Given the growth potential in India, it is time that we step on the pedal and make the above happen in India and for India.

Attend Mobile India 2015 on 9th January 2015, to listen and meet with experts in this area. Download “COMSNETS 2015” app from Google Play Store for event updates.

Venue: The Chancery Pavillion, Residency Road, Bangalore

About the authors: Dr. V. Sridhar and Dr. T.K. Srikanth; both are Professors at the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore.


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