Indian tech firms link with China to take on Western brands

Indian technology companies are growing in confidence. New brands are launching thick and fast, determined to take on established Western names with help from cheap Chinese factories.

Many of them have made significant inroads into the rocketing mobile phone market in India, and others already have their eye on bigger prizes in the international tablet computer and PC industry.

The boss of Bangalore-based Notion Ink, Rohan Shravan, is a man in a hurry. The fast-talking 25-year-old co-founded the group three years ago and will start taking orders for his "Adam" tablet computer within weeks.

Shipping of the sleek iPad wannabee to the United States and Europe could begin at the end of the year, with domestic sales starting soon after.

"What we want to do is set a standard in the international market with the Adam," Shravan, a graduate of one of India's prestigious technical universities, told AFP.

"There's going to be exponential growth for us," he said, adding that an updated version of the device was already in development.

Elsewhere, electronics group Olive and online Indian shopping site Infibeam - which models itself on US-based Amazon, even down to its very similar logo - have both launched their own tablet computers.

Amazon has other admirers in India and the concept of its top-selling e-reader Kindle, designed specifically for reading books and magazines, has also been copied by another ambitious Bangalore-based company, EC Media.

In August, it launched Wink, which is about 40 dollars cheaper than the Kindle in India, though it has received mixed reviews.

EC Media has signed up deals with local publishers to supply books in English as well as 15 vernacular languages - a key part of their sales strategy.

"We thought that even though the market is not there yet, if you are in the market then it has good scope for growth," Pradeep Palazhi, chief operating officer, told AFP at a launch event in New Delhi.

"Wink is designed for the Indian reader. The Kindle is available here, but it's still dependent on the US store," he said.

In the mobile phone sector, competition is fierce and the impact of Indian companies could presage developments in other parts of the electronics market, where demand is being driven by India's rapidly expanding economy.

Rising incomes, access to credit, and the falling costs of technology mean sales of electronic goods are booming across the country.

In the mobile sector, Indian brands Micromax, Lava, Spice, Karbonn and Zen have mushroomed over the last 12 months, grabbing share from Nokia through aggressive marketing and products adapted for the local market.

In a study published in September, research firm IDC estimated domestic handset makers had grabbed a market share of 33 percent from just 0.9 percent two years ago.

Their road to success, like everyone else's in the electronics sector, reaches back into China where large-scale, hi-tech and cheap contract manufacturers have been tapped as suppliers.

Though relations between the two Asian superpowers are prickly at a diplomatic level, collaboration between India's skilled software engineers and device designers and China's factories is developing at pace.

"There are vendors in China that can do just about anything you want," said Amit Aggerwal, respected Indian technology writer and chief of the Digital Inspiration blog.

"You give them the price they are asking for and you get a product ready to go to stores.

"If you have an idea, getting it executed is quite easy now, so that's helping a lot of vendors," he added.

Shravan from Notion Ink said getting his devices manufactured in India made no sense because production capacity is small, meaning prices are high, and factories lack the latest hi-tech equipment.

"China is the one that has invested in nano technology. They have the scale," he told AFP.

He says he would like to see his devices being assembled in India - mobile phone firms such as Micromax and Nokia already have such facilities - but manufacturing will not be a possibility for the "next five to ten years".

"It takes a lot for the investment in the infrastructure in electronics," he said.

Consultancy Frost & Sullivan recently carried out a study of the Indian electronics market and concluded that the country had good prospects for manufacturing in several product areas.

Mobile handsets and mobile phone base stations have potential, as well as computer desktops and laptops, memory products and screens for televisions and computer monitors, Frost said.

Ameya Dalvi, editor of consumer electronics website www.techtree.com, says many in the industry expect a tablet PC boom after the success of the Apple iPad, which could present Indian companies with an opportunity.

He says the mobile phone market has shown how Indian brands are capable of challenging international groups in the low-end mass market once demand has been established.

"Indian companies are not pioneers. They'll wait, watch and then jump in at the right time if the market is sizeable," he says.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

    Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Analyst - London - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Server Reporting Analyst (Busine...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003