As a racy and happening 2010 draws to a close, I’m tempted to make a note of the events that were most significant from a technology consumer perspective.
The No. 1 event of the year was…well, the year itself. The pace at which the market rebounded from the doldrums of 2008 and 2009 was quite sharp and seemed to surprise even the optimist. The positive energy of the new year was duly supported by an improving macroeconomic environment and latent market demand.
Talking of more micro matters, the product that really made the maximum impact in the consumer tech market is the one that’s yet to be formally brought to India — the iPad. The device’s unprecedented success globally prompted quite a bit of tablet activity in the Indian market as well. The most notable among vendors that brought their tablet devices to the Indian market include Samsung, Olive and Dell. Bengaluru-based Notion Ink’s Adam tablet, which has been touted as an iPad killer, is yet to be outed as it awaits its date with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week.
Another product that actually became something of a phenomenon and can arguably be said to have created greater impact than even the iPad is Google’s Android OS. It was the fastest growing OS during the year, with a Gartner release for Q3, 2010 noting that Android jumped from No. 6 to No. 2 slot in the smartphone OS segment over the year ago quarter, gaining a whopping 22 per cent market share along the way, globally. In India too, the gain was significant, if not equally big. According to IDC India’s latest release, 9.4 per cent of smart phones shipped in 3Q 2010 were based on the Android OS as compared to 2.9 per cent in 3Q 2009.
The number of models with Android OS also increased to 19 in 3Q 2010 as compared to only two models in 3Q 2009, said IDC India.
More importantly, this gain looks sustainable, given that the OS is duly backed up by a vibrant Android app store that’s rapidly covering the gap with big rival Apple’s app store. Android has created a strong following among the young and upwardly mobile consumers, especially male, but will need to better address the tastes of the fairer gender.
The awarding of 3G licences was easily the fourth most important ICT event of the year from an Indian perspective. Though a majority of service providers are yet to roll out 3G services, there already is a good deal of buzz around it among potential subscribers. The country’s largest mobile service provider Airtel sports a new logo and has visibly completed the branding exercise around the change. Tata DoCoMo has launched 3G services for the nine circles where it holds the licence, while others are expected to complete their respective 3G rollouts in the first quarter of CY 2011.
The fifth most important event was the rollout of mobile number portability (MNP), which kickstarted from the Haryana telecom circle and is expected to be implemented in other circles by February 2011.
MNP is significant because it empowers subscribers to exercise a vote against an inferior quality of service. Also, subscribers can use MNP to switch to a 3G service provider in case their operator does not have a 3G licence.
The Indian ICT market has so far been a volume-driven growth story. The events and products discussed above are important because they are representative and indicative of a value-based growth saga.
(As published in Deccan Chronicle, December 30, 2010; header modified.)

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