Friday, January 01, 2010

coolest gadget of the decade in India..

The growth of mobile phones in India..

While going thru the Hindu this morning, the above topic struck me like a typhoon. I remember the time when mobile phones had just entered for the first time the hands of Indians around late nineties. Getting a landline telephone connection was very time consuming till then and involved so much of waiting and cajoling the BSNL lineman and commercial officer after waiting for more than 2 - 10 years. We had lots of patience then and were willing to accomodate a corrupt babudom and an equally lethargic DOT.

I remember a colleague of mine reminding me then, just wait,  another five years, you will get mobile phones for the asking and for less than Rs 2000.00. How true !!  We are already hitting at rates below rs 1000.00 now..

The first time, I got a mobile call was when the phone rang (nokia 3110, bulky one, gifted) when I was engaging a class in 2001, sept or so.. I was one of the few faculty in Goa engg college to have one. For a moment neither me nor the students knew what was happening ! The charges were rs 2.00 for a local call, incoming another Rs.1.00. For students it was a total high  funda thing and out of reach of ordinary students. SMS was unheard of.

In just nine years, the cell phone has penetrated so much that from call rates of Rs 20 per minute outgoing and an equal amount for incoming calls in the 90s, presently it is 30 ps per minute for outgoing and free incoming and almost free roaming on BSNL. See the way the gadget has spread over.. Tata got the mobile rates going southward, with their '1p/sec plan' , which got all other players running for cover initially and then meekly submitting themselves finally. The entry barrier to go mobile has come down drastically,  with just rs 1000 for a decent instrument, a free sim card, and a prepaid connection for rs 30, one can go mobile and be connected with the world now !!

The penetration as of Nov 2009 is 506.4 million wireless and total 543 million (wireless and land) for a population of 1200 million.( roughly 50 % of population has mobiles now..) The real fact is of these 500 + million connections, at least 100 million are redundant or unused connections. We are the second most networked country in the world regards to communication with terrific potential for growth.

The pace at which we are growing at about 8 - 10 million new mobile connections every month, we will outpace China and become the country with max mobile connections in the near future.

More than the internet, which reaches just 8% of the India population, the coolest gadget of the country during the just completed decade was no doubt, the cell phone.

With India having the world's largest youngster population, 600 million below 26 years of age, we are just looking at more baffling statistics !!

While India has age-old problems like illiteracy, caste system, poverty and so on, China has 'old-age problems'. Its population is ageing fast and less and less of youngsters now have to support more and more elderly, less productive people. The median age of its population is about 46 years while in India it is just 26 years. We have a 20 year demographic advantage and all of that is working to India's advantage..


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