Mobile: the new 'Swiss Knife'

Naveen Mishra
19 Aug 2010

Shuchi, a US-based NRI, visited India after seven years. Expecting things to be as they were seven years back, she bought a feature-rich handset from a leading global brand and put it in her handbag for safe-keeping, whenever she stepped out of the house. A week later the handbag had been left in the suitcase. “People here seem to go out of the house with only their mobile phones and car keys,” she said. And the handsets she saw here, made her feel she had overspent on her ‘branded’ phone!

As handset makers strive to innovate the perfect device, sales of handsets are breaching new barriers in India. The first three months of the year handset sales stood at a record breaking 36.35 million, according to the IDC India. This was a growth of 39.5% year-on-year (Q1 2010 over Q1 2009) in terms of unit shipments.

Over the last few years the mobile phone has morphed to become no less than the 'Swiss Knife' of personal communication devices. How many people have stopped wearing a wrist watch or a stop watch or carrying a FM radio player or a calculator or a flashlight...the list is seemingly endless. Today mobile phones are available with up to 32 GB internal memory and a 12-megapixel camera."

Almost every day a new mobile handset model is launched by a vendor with an innovation. Some features address basic user concerns in an emerging market like India - lack of access to 24x7 power supply to recharge batteries (30-day recharge cycle phones, solar powered handsets), operating in noisy, dusty and/or humid conditions (high decibel speakers, dust-proof lamination, water-proof outer casing), living in areas with high incidence of power outages (LED flashlight) etc.

What we see today is a mobile handsets market witnessing many innovations and enhancements in looks, features, network access-capability (3G-enabled phones etc.), and applications-capability (phones pre-loaded with e-book readers etc.)

Then there are features address more aspirational needs such as a digital camera with flashlight (to use in impromptu social situations such as office parties, friends' birthdays or a beautiful sunset), a primary memory card slot to store favorite music tracks/audio downloads, and an A2DP-enabled headset to be able to experience high quality wireless music/audio replays while at the same time seamlessly receive calls.

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