It’s an empty life for a tech enthusiast in India. The market is wise enough to get the latest and the best products in consumer technology to our friendly neighbourhood grey market vendor at just about around the international release dates, but unfortunately we are marred by the ridiculously short-sighted content providers.
Let’s start with the essentials like 3G. The auction has become a circus with ridiculous bids and very little call to action besides MTNL’s Jadoo service, which I believe would be truly magical if you get it to connect when you’re on the move. And this is in 2010 — multiple generations after 3G handsets got mass market with consumers constantly questioning their decisions behind spending extra money buying those handsets.
We’ve had HD Ready and Full HD TVs available for close to a decade, and they’ve gotten popular enough for manufacturers to not even proactively advertise about the good old CRT TVs anymore. But there’s little content to make these TVs even worth it. Unless you’re willing to additionally spend a good chunk on Blu-Rays or gaming console like the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, you’re pretty much stuck with the (sub) standard definition broadcast on your cable.
Sun DTH’s announcement of HD Cable is a ray of sunshine, but the problem is that I’m limited to a handful of channels that provide content on it, and none of them even broadcast movies on it. I like the fact that Nat Geo looks gorgeous in HD, but I’d love to see HD TV shows at the end of a long hard day.
Even iTunes is discriminating against me. While the world gets options purchasing and downloading digitally formatted movies and music, both of those are unavailable to the Indian audience. Apparently, Apple feels that we may not be ready for streaming content, but we’re definitely ready to pay in US dollars for hundreds of bikini and kamasutra apps spamming the app store. I can see how they’re filtering content for Indian sensibilities.
It’s this exact lack of legally available digital download options in entertainment media that’s so bothersome. Piracy is rampant in India — people are downloading DivX movies in atrocious quality just so that they can conveniently view it on their PCs. Sure you won’t eliminate piracy through legal movie downloads, but people who don’t mind paying for quality content will at least have an option.
Now here’s the scary part. This year we have two new major categories of consumer electronics hitting the market — 3D TVs and Slate PCs. These are two product categories that have piqued consumer interests, and are ripe for making a variety of content more accessible and engaging. I seriously wonder how many generations of these will go completely untapped in our market before they see any justifiable content on them.