computing and communications comprehensively converge in a compact device
that fits in your pocket, exciting times are ahead, say Suvarna Singh and
Bibhu Choudhary, in their analysis of PDA phones in the Indian market
wasn''t that long ago when a paper notebook, an executive diary and a folder
full of printed documents were the essential contents of the average Indian
executive briefcase. The filofax and the digital diary first made their appearance
in the late ''80s, and replaced both the notebook and the executive diary.
Then came laptop computers, pagers and mobile phones, to keep the executive
connected, equipped and informed while on the move.
as the standard of communication comprehensively changed the way the Indian
executive worked but laptops were large, heavy and inconvenient to
carry around. So came the personal digital assistant (PDA), a handheld computer
which could handle the basic functions of a laptop and could be carried around
in a pocket, rather than a bag. The turn of the millennium has brought in
the very latest in the computing and communications revolution the
they have been around for over five years, PDA phones first made their appearance
in the Indian market in 2004. In the US, Western Europe and Japan, they are
considered essential equipment for executives and mobile information workers.
The world bought over four million of these devices in 2004 alone. It is only
a matter of time before executives in India follow suit.
phones themselves have changed enormously in the five years they have been
in existence, in physical appearance as well as the software applications
they run. High resolution colour graphics have replaced monochrome screens,
battery life has gone up from a few hours to a few weeks, their weight has
dropped to just about 100 grams and they can now have up to 128Mb of memory
in RAM and ROM.
pen-like touch screen stylus has revolutionised input technology, support
for add-on devices like qwerty keyboards, laser-based keyboards and an external
monitor overcomes small screens sizes, making them virtual computers.
the applications front, we have entire office suites now available on these
devices, not to mention seamless messaging, calendar and browsing applications.
The mobile phone and the PDA have converged converge into a single handheld
of any new technology follows a pattern that is typical of the nature of the
technology and that of the consumers. Frank M Bass proposed a model to predict
the adoption pattern. This 30-year-old model has seen many extensions by many
marketing gurus over the years, but the basic model is still regarded as the
gold standard. The prediction is based on three factors - innovation, imitation
and total market potential.
items, typically, have a high innovation coefficient. These products get adopted
very quickly and reach their peak soon. Those which have a high imitation
coefficient, such as status products, take a long time to take off. However,
Indian consumers have typically shown higher imitation and lower innovation,
as far as their adoption behaviour is concerned.
A'' explains how television has had an extremely high imitation co-efficient
and low innovation co-efficient. As a result, it got adopted pretty quickly
and reached saturation point very soon. On the contrary, a frying pan does
not have imitation effects, but it does have innovation value. With its introduction
to the market, it was adopted almost immediately, but still hasn''t reached
saturation. The personal computer has taken a comparatively longer time to
take off, but has a relatively smaller maturity period than a frying pan.
coefficients are not a function of the nature of the product alone. They are
also tightly bound to the culture and lifestyle of the market. We do not expect
the adoption pattern of a microwave oven in India to follow the same trend
as in the United States. This is because the two cultures fundamentally differ
consumers traditionally have been less innovative in trying out new things,
but they have shown a greater inclination to imitate the usage of a lifestyle
product. PDA phones fall in the category of lifestyle as well as productivity
study on the adoption of mobile phones in recent years indicates that Indian
consumers have not been as innovative as their US counterparts (0.001 against
0.008) but they do get as influenced by others'' purchases (0.40 against 0.42).
In other words, the Indian market has a relatively low proportion of early
glance at the Asia Pacific market gives us an insight into the future of the
product in India. Forrester mentions in its report ''Getting to 3 billion
mobile users'' that the western markets have reached saturation in the
penetration of mobile phones, and the next wave is likely in emerging markets.
the emerging markets of the Asia-Pacific region, when we look at reports on
the adoption of wireless internet on phones, we find that the entire region
follows more or less a similar trend.
the cultural factors into account when we extrapolate the behaviour of consumers
towards a productivity device which has a positive network externality, we
predict a low coefficient of innovation and a high coefficient of imitation.
Almost half the mobile information workers working for large corporate houses
are expected to adopt these smart devices by the year 2010.
sheer size of the Indian market opens up a plethora of opportunities for manufacturers,
distributors, retailers and service providers. General Packet Radio (GPRS)
services will be in high demand, as we expect more data-centric devices to
take the place of feature phones.
will see more subsidies being given to the hardware, as service providers
try to lower the entry barrier for price-sensitive customers in the country.
Hardware manufacturers have already started taking notice of the large numbers
predicted and we can see the likes of O2, Motorola, RIM and Dell floating
their most popular models here at extremely attractive prices.
the data surrounding the adoption of similar products in different markets
suggests that Indian market is gearing to embrace this new computing paradigm
in a big way. Being connected to your corporate network, your emails and all
necessary documents will be a common expectation.
While this could
be a boon for the travelling executive, the downside is that you cannot rule
out that your will expect boss that you send him your company report even
when you are on a holiday in Goa!