New smartphones shift focus to India's app economy

  • N Madhavan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2015 11:27 IST

When Xiaomi, called the Apple of China, launches its Redmi 4G phone in India at a price of R 9,999, you have to pause and take note.

And last week's other announcement in which the Chinese wannabe matched the iPhone 6 Plus with its Mi Note phablet at a starting Indian equivalent price of R 23,000 (less than half of the matching iPhone model's price) may still find turned up noses , given the snob value that an Apple phone commands. But the writing is on the wall: you cannot ride just on brand names anymore in a competitive world.

If more proof was needed, China's own Lenovo, which swallowed IBM's Thinkpad brand in a PC business buyout, has launched its A6000 4G phone with state-of-the-art features at R 6,999.

All these things leave me with little doubt that last week's study by the Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) with the Boston Consulting Group of India's digital economy is on real ground. The study estimates that by 2018, 580 million Indians will be online, up from the current 300 million --- and nearly half of them will be in rural areas in a digital economy whose size is estimated at R 10 lakh crore.

The bottomline is that the game is now wide open for the Internet economy --- as distinct from the gadget or bandwidth economy. I hope the new year finds meaning for the thousands of startups that have taken bets on content, apps and services that really make the Internet the revolution it is.

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