So tablets have come and are getting settled as a segment that’s somewhere between the PCs and the smart phones. Yes, the mobile tablets story in India is still weak, but signals are that the scenario could be changing rapidly over the next few months.

While the consumer interest has already been kindled through devices like Apple’s iPad and iPad 2 and Samsung ‘s Galaxy Tab, signs are that further market development, especially in the mid-market consumer segments, looks set to be accelerated by Indian players.

Some of these vendors have already been active; in fact, even before the advent of MNC brands. These include Olive Telecom and Infibeam, with their devices OlivePad and Infibeam Phi. Some other devices like HCL ME, Zen Pad and Binatone Homesurf have also come up more recently. And of course, the story would be incomplete without the mention of Notion Ink’s Adam tablet, which earned international accolades at the very pre-market stage.

Many more, including Spice CSL and Beetel Teletech, are keen to arrive at the party, before it really starts rocking.

Clearly, the stakeholders are expecting the tablets market to take off in a significant way, as is obvious from the fact that there already are 10-12 active players in the market. And at least 4-5 more would be joining the fray in the next few months.

The ongoing developments bode well for the market, presenting the consumer with a wider range of option, not only in terms of prices but also in terms of form factors and features.

The prices range from as low as around Rs 14,000 to upwards of Rs 45,000, and one would also expect a slow but continuous decline in the prices. In fact, some stakeholders have noted that [entry-level] prices in the range of Rs 10,000 would be possible if volumes turned sizable enough.

The Indian vendors have already tasted success in the mobile phones segment and that makes them more confident and bullish about repeating the success in developing the tablets market. The success mantra for them in the mobile phone segment was to provide higher-end features in the entry- and mid-level devices, which struck chord especially with the not-so-brand-loyal consumers.

The arrival and rapid growth of the Android platform has already given Indian vendors a basis to launch models in the smart phone segment, and in the coming months one would be seeing more smart phone launches by these players. So from a capability perspective, tablets would only be a logical step forward for them. Their mantra for the tablet segment is expected to remain the same–to pack more features in the entry-level models.

Should the likes of Apple worry? No way, certainly, as long as they remain unmatched and keep raising the innovation ante. Complacency, in an increasingly consumer-driven world, can kill…and that applies to Indian vendors too!

(As published in Deccan Chronicle, May 19, 2011; header changed.)

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