India has emerged as the biggest smartphone market after China

India is in the midst of a huge technology revolution as digitisation takes root across the economic vector, turning the country into a global player given the explosive growth in smartphone shipments, huge upswing in high value data services and growing competition among equipment suppliers and services providers.

Globally acclaimed IT-services, both in software and hardware has for long turned us into neighbours’ envy. Concomitant rapid growth in smartphones and mobile-based services have all the trappings of overtaking IT services and exports, expanding the country’s technology industry matrix. Latest trigger is emergence of India as the biggest smartphone market after China and overtaking US. Growing demand for cost effective handsets and proliferation of 4G services have apparently contributed majorly to India overtaking US and catapulting IT to second position internationally.

London based consultancy firm Canalys in its latest report put the shipment of smartphones from across China and South Korea to a whopping 40 million sets in July-September quarter registering year on year growth of 23 per cent. Emergence of Samsung, Xiomi, Oppo, Lenovo and Vivo as five among close to 100 brands sold in India has its own story to narrate on India’s mobile phones market.

Most mobile set peddlers from South Korea and China have profitably utilised the laxity in telecom bureaucracy leading to majority sub-standard smartphones with very little or no shelf life. From 30 to 290 per cent growth reported by several brands signifies the potential the country has for mobile set manufacture within the country.

Barring Apple that has just begun a manufacturing unit in India to rollout its iconic iPhone, most companies have exploited the low smartphone penetration, very few quality parameters to meet and spread of long term evolution (LTE) to turn the country a dump market for mobile phones.

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha may well take pride in the reported achievement of India overtaking US with cheap smartphones, but American market continues to lead in value terms many times over.  Government projections of services revenues shooting up to Rs 6.60 lakh crore in three years is yet another indication of good times to come for the telecom industry. The reported smartphone penetration seems to have propelled huge 76 per cent increase in data consumption in 2016.

Third major factor leading to the rapid spread in terms of telecom numbers and value is cut throat competition amongst top four service providers following the entry of Reliance Jio one year back. Churn in the industry with consolidation, cost cutting and judicious utilisation of spectrum holdings across bandwidth is expected to provide enough fodder for a bigger spread of telecom industry.

While piling up of huge debt worth over Rs 5 lakh crore with banks is seen as a limiting factor, double digit growth, better revenue generation, innovations in equipment market and moving up the value chain was expected to hasten up maturity in the Indian telecom sector for both equipment as well as services.

In this context, advancement in innovations holds the key for the sector. For instance, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies like health monitors and transport were expected to push up the machine to machine services by a whopping 21 per cent.  Only rider was that any disruptive action by the government on policy front may hamper the spread of services and telecom equipment. Secondly, streamlining the norms for both equipment and services with minimal intervention by the nodal department and judicious monitoring by TRAI will work wonders. Thirdly, drawing up a comprehensive plan to export both telecom equipment and services will go a long way in unleashing the country’s potential.