Microsoft eyes Indian smartphone market

Microsoft eyes Indian smartphone market


"We have heavily invested in that space and will continue to do so. It is still a very competitive space," Microsoft Corporate Vice President (OEM Division) Steve Guggenheimer told reporters. Smartphones, high-powered mobiles with computer functionalities and big screen, constitute less than 10 per cent of total cellphone market in India. According to industry estimates, out of the 130 million devices likely to be sold in 2009-2010 only six million would be smartphones. Out of the six million, only 2.5 lakh phones run on Microsoft's operating system.

Guggenheimer said, Microsoft works with several mobile handset manufacturers like Sony Ericsson, HTC, LG and Samsung except Nokia, which uses Symbian operating system. Although Microsoft's Windows-based smartphones have come up in the past few years, they face stiff competition from the likes of Nokia, which uses Symbian OS and Blackberry. The competition got hotter with the entry of Apple mobiles and Google's recently launched OS, Android, not to talk of spread of mailing device Blackberry.

"That (smartphone) market will continue to move and shake and do a lot other things," he added. Pankaj Mohindroo, President of Indian Cellular Association said that while the overall handset market is expected to grow by 15-30 per cent, the market for smartphone is expected to grow by over 50 per cent. The government and the IT industry, have been pushing hard to increase the broadband penetration to reach education and healthcare to villages but without much success. The cellular market, on the other hand, has seen addition of over 15 million wireless subscribers a month, although a lot of them use entry level phones that are used mainly for voice calls and have smaller screens.

Among the many efforts by the industry and the government has been to come with computing devices like the Netbook, which would be less expensive. Guggenheimer said however that Microsoft is not looking at pushing any one category. "We provide nice building blocks (for computing). We don't spend our own marketing money to create a catagory," he added. "We tried creating catagories before the MSN companion, we created the tablet PCs. Catagory creations are hard. It costs a lot of money and so we will provide the softwrae to enable  people to create a catagory," Guggenheimer said.

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