The interesting change in the world of computers is the diversity of devices that are now becoming available. We have netbooks, network computers (thin clients), smartbooks, eBook readers, gaming consoles – and tablet computers are on the way. In all cases, the form factor will likely be much bigger than what a conventional smartphone offers.
In India, these devices will need to be offered on a monthly installment plan for quick mass market adoption. There will be two key price points: sub-Rs 5,000 for the device (the one-time upfront payment), and a monthly subscription fee of Rs 400-500 (which includes broadband access). This is where the telcos will have to take the lead. It is a model they are familiar with – be it with landlines or mobiles.
Devices also must have simplified user interfaces. We are targeting the next set of computer users who don’t need all the bells and whistles that Windows offers. While the browser will be good for a lot of the functionality, a limited icon-based interface (like on a mobile phone) could go some way in breaking the usability barrier. In addition, by leveraging server-centric (cloud) computing and management, the device itself can be simplified.
In India, PC sales are about 8-9 million a year. Of these, about a third end up in homes. The new devices have the potential to drive consumption to 2-3X of that, thus creating the necessary demand for broadband pipes.