“My driver completed three years and I asked him what gift he wanted. He asked for a smartphone. This explains the power of mobile in everyone’s life,” said Sachin Bansal, Founder and CEO, Flipkart, at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Bangalore.
Smartphone penetration in India has seen rapid growth in the past few years. Mobile devices have become affordable and the cost of internet is coming down.
Globally, 30 per cent of media consumption happens on mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, whereas in India, 50-60 per cent happens on smartphones alone.
A Flipkart survey estimates that one billion smartphones would be sold in India in the next five years compared to 40-50 million desktops and laptops during the same period. Similar to the transition from desktops to laptops, companies need to have a presence on mobile to compete in the global market. There are plenty of funds available in the mobile internet space and the cost of starting a business in the mobile space is also becoming less expensive.
With innovation leading to cheaper smart phones, the usage of apps has increased. Now not only is app creation easier, but it’s also within everyone’s reach. Bansal urged developers to make apps in India and develop indigenous applications on mobile phones in resonance with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. Naveen Tewari, Founder and CEO at InMobi said that the country should look at setting up mobile app villages focussed on creating a new app economy.
Tewari said that India would see an exponential growth in the next five to 10 years. “If you are sitting in Silicon Valley and assuming the next growth would come from there, you are absolutely incorrect,” he said. According to him, 10 years ago, no product company came out of India but that has changed big time. There are a lot of platforms coming from India, which can be taken global.
However, Indians also have to learn a lot from their global counterparts. Content innovation hasn’t yet happened in India, he added. The country also needs to import design talent. Lack of infrastructure in the country has driven a lot of innovation, with people solving problems very differently.
Experts also discussed that there is a need to focus and promote the building of software products in the country. “I fundamentally believe that over the next five years, a lot of challenges in the country will be sorted out through products, technology products. The question is, will we as Indians, be solving it ourselves? Or will we be importing the solutions into India and then solving it. If we were to import, five years down the line, we’ll be importing roughly US$500 billion worth of software products a year. Or we can get our entrepreneurs to create US$500 billion worth of stuff for us, keep that capital within the country and start off an entrepreneurial cycle of great magnitude,” said Tewari.
One of the most important measures for creating software capabilities in the country would be to motivate people to come back to India. Bansal said, “As a mobile commerce company, we depend a lot on talent coming back to India. I think the PM’s visit to the US should motivate a lot of people to come back to India. I would say that the real opportunity is here, create your Silicon Valley here.”