The telecom growth ( I wouldn’t call it as a boom) has seen the incremental growth of the mobile handsets. There was a lot of “controversy” about the exact numbers as mentioned by the Yankee Group and the numbers given by the associations.
Prima facie, it becoimes difficult to assess the number of customers. However, this isn’t the focus of this post. Mobile handsets have seen a surge for the demand and what previously was a rich man’s toy has become a poor man’s necessity.
The major growth of the mobile telecom has come in from the growth in the secondary market i.e. the robust second hand sales. The sellers work on wafer thin margins and blinking lights with “filmi tunes” are a good enough sales pitch to make the rickshaw puller part with his money.
Like any electronics, they too are prone for damage and once the initial enthusiasm wanes off (sick of porn on your tiny screen), you would urge for another replacement.
There was a pertinent point made by Mala Bhargava in her alternate weekly column in Business World, that buying a handset in India is fraught with uncertainities. I have been reading Business World for the past 1+ year and this was the first time that she made sense. By the way, she is the editor of Living Digital which is a run of the mill “electronics magazine”. At best, you are handed over a “dummy model” but none of the working ones. I think, the manuacturers themselves oppose any move of this sort.
There is no reliable website to benchmark the various mobile handsets. There are cetain websites that promote the “looks” and to some degree, “functionality” of the handsets. I remember, long time back, GigaOm(now morphed into monstrous double clickable advertising platform surreptiously named “giga ads”) had mentioned about some Nokia handset. To me, the first impression was that this egg head was almost peeing in his pants, panting while typing the whole thing out and getting a pay check (via paypal?) in his bank account. Apart from that, there are numerous “fan boy sites” devoted to Nokias and their ilk.
I still have to find any good mobile having functional menu with decent battery back up times. Barring Nokias, others involve a decent exercise of my bird brain to figure out the functionality. Much of the work is “outsourced” to India which speaks of the “quality”. I have variously switched from basic LG/ Nokia/ Samsung/ Sony/ Motorola et al and settled on Nokia. For one good measure. Nokias command the highest resale value by virtue of being the largest selling mobile handset. Plus getting them repaired/ customised (with flash covers) is cheap and accessible. Other handsets charge you a premium and “F***” you like the way Congress does.
A significant Indian phenomenon, Nokia launched it’s “India Made” model with much aplomb. It was their best selling handset so far.
Otherwise, in my opinion, mobile phones fall short of the “integrative features”. Music speakers suck and they encode with measly 64k for mp3′s. The cameras are of course a let down with a CMOS based sensor. This can at best take grainy pictures (any one can tesify for the infamous DPS clip). The memory can’t be expanded to “as much as you like” and the screen resolution remains dismal. In this gloom and doom, there are executive “types” who would want to carry their “berrys” so that they don’t miss an email. Beyond the qwerty keypad and large screen, I didn’t find anything revolutionary about the berrys, except for the fancy price sticker.
At present, there is a dire need for a dedicated website and independent review of the mobile handsets. Ideally speaking, with appropriate benchmarks and long term review of the ownership.
Before I end, Tata’s had introduced Kyocera handsets while launching their services. Much like the Tata’s heavy headed bosses and dismal intelligence to speak of, they were brick sized contraptions. I am told that they were withdrawn post haste and “sleek and slimmer” models were introduced instead. Who told the rugmuffians to introduce them in the first case?
Mobile party isn’t over and assuming that there are 85 million subscribers (a BIG suspect), they still have to “arm” the rest of the population. With single chips based handsets and longer rugged battery lives, we might see more research towards mass produced cheaper handsets. Till then, you could admire the latest Nokias (and how useless most of the features are anyway).