I spent few weeks this summer in India.This is the longest stretch of time I have spent there since I moved to US almost 16 years ago.India has changed dramatically in last few years.Yes there are more cars and a lot more restaurants and there is a thriving tourism industry but the change is most noticeable in how technology – especially Internet and mobile is reshaping the country in many so many different ways.I am going to focus this blog on some of my observations and musings in those areas from my time in India.
- I was certainly amazing by the dramatic increase in the personal digital footprint of the population.When I was growing up many years ago, a home telephone used to be a luxury only available to and afforded by a select few.That is no longer the case – though not many actually care to have a home phone any more.The mobile phone is ubiquitous.The depth and reach of mobile phone availability in India is really staggering.What is also remarkable is the rapidly increasing availability and affordability of ‘smart’ phones.This naturally opens up so many opportunities for mobile use in commercial and social space and also in governance of this vast and complicated country.Of course plenty of challenges remain – two big ones being that infrastructure is not keeping pace with demand as I experienced many times and security remains a huge concern
- It’s not surprising that Android phones outpace Apple in India by a wide margin.Almost all the local or Chinese manufacturers of mobile phones sold in India use some variation of Android while iPhone and iPad have replaced the ‘home telephone’ as the prestige symbol for a certain strata of society.The question in my mind was could Apple really afford to ignore this fastest growing market in the world for mobile phones? By some accounts, nearly 25% of Apple’s revenue today comes from China – a major shift in last 3 years of so.I just don’t see Apple achieving that level of penetration in India
- We here at BTC have had a lot of conversations and engagement with number of Clinical Research organizations exploring potential of using Apple ResearchKit to mobilize some parts of their research processes.India is a fertile ground for developmental and experimental drug research with its vast population, diversity and dramatic increase of diseases in population due to rapid lifestyle changes.Naturally any potential use of RK in India is going to be limited due to low penetration of Apple devices.There are rumors that Google Life Sciences is working on a framework or a product for the research domain – we certainly look forward to exploring that when released.
- High penetration of mobile devices is certainly driving the growth of ‘M-commerce’ in India with many companies choosing to be purely ‘mobile’.What was interesting to me though was a recent announcement by a leading ‘M-commerce’ player in India that they are planning to open number ‘physical’ stores across most of the major cities in India.I wonder if this is related to issues with infrastructure and security or more driven by the need of the consumer to ‘touch and feel’ products they are buying
- I was surprised to see the extent to which ride sharing services such as Uber are used in big Indian’s cities.But I was more impressed by some really innovative businesses that really work in the context of a country like India.For example, a business called ‘OkDriver’ that offers a Driver to come drive your car for a chunk of time.Very ingenuous.
- What impressed the most though is the buzz around the technology and biotech sector in India.The talk is no longer about becoming the ‘back office’ of the world.It is about innovation, product development, IP creation – the excitement of ‘Indian’ grown businesses is palpable.It was also interesting to see the shift of businesses targeting Indian consumers over focusing purely on North American market
We here at BTC continue to be part of this exciting technology story.We are working on ResearchKit, IOT and some really cool next generation mobile apps.Seeing the mobile technology take root in one of the largest countries in the world convinces me that the best days for innovation are still ahead.
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