Android will grow in India in 2011

This Sunday, I was at Croma in Phoenix Mills, Mumbai, and I was observing shopper behaviour at the mobile phone counters. Just 3 months ago, the buzz was all around the Blackberry Torch, then the Nokia N8 and of course, the iPhone. This month, for the first time, it was impossible to get near any of the Android phones - HTC Desire especially generated huge interest. The Nokia and even the Blackberry counters had a deserted look in contrast.

With HTC finally launching a full and almost up-to-date range of models, Samsung introducing many-priced flavors of the Galaxy series, and Micromax and Ideos bringing in some very respectable budget models, Android is finally revealing its full potential in India.

IDC India projects that approximately 155 million handsets were sold in India in 2010, of which a modest 6 million were smartphones. But smartphone market share is growing at a whopping rate (over 200% Year on Year growth in 2010). With smartphone prices falling and more models becoming available in the market, we can certainly expect the smartphone segment to grow in 2011.

In the new scenario, Android is also doing well in India, though not as well as it has done globally. According to IDC, 9.6% of smartphones shipped in Q3 2010 carried Android OS. Also, in 2010, the number of Android vendors in India has grown from 1 in 2009 to 7, and 19 models are available now. Again, this should act as a spur for growth.

Of course, the growth of Android (and indeed, any smartphone OS) will be closely linked to increased penetration of 2G/GPRS and deployment of 3G. In an interesting trend, a lot of the newer telecom operators like Videocon and Uninor have been launching attractively priced 'unlimited' GPRS packs, no doubt with a view to attract youth. Free surfing is packaged for sites like Facebook and Orkut, or for a fixed number of days, and is targeted at the prepaid users who form a huge chunk of the Indian market.

As Indians get a taste of data on their mobiles, they will definitely want more of it, and will upgrade to smartphones that offer a better surfing experience. Will the likes of Micromax and Ideos be able to hold these consumers or will they upgrade to better handsets from Samsung, LG etc?

I also wonder where Nokia will stand in this equation, now that they have tied up with Microsoft and committed to WP7. Windows Mobile has had limited deployment till now and more with the corporate/ enterprise sector. It would be interesting to see how the future of Nokia plays out in India, now that the focus and thrust of growth will be smartphones!

Source : IDC

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