TECH TALK: The Rs 5,000 PC Ecosystem: 10 Ideas to Tap Invisible Markets

Lets see how we can the 10 ideas outlined by Vijay Mahajan, Marcos V. Pratini De Moraes and Jerry Wind in their paper (Marketing Management, Winter 2000) on The Invisible Global Markets in the context of building our Rs 5,000 PC (5KPC) ecosystem

1. Build products to compete against bullock carts rather than automobiles: The competition for the 5KPC is not necessarily the 20KPC. Rather, it is nonconsumption, or in the case of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the paper-pen approach to writing letters and doing accounts. In schools and colleges, a handful of computers (if present at all) are shared by dozens of students in that case, the computer is not a personal computer, it is more like a TV. By bringing the cost down, we can now create individualised access to the computers, thus making for a learning experience (as compared to a viewing one earlier).

2. Create product and service revolutions that can be exported: India can be the first market, the laboratory for implementing these 5KPC ideas. But that is not the only market. The opportunity lies in replicating these ideas across other markets like India. The language requirements may be different, but the same desires and needs for a connected computer exists across the countries at the bottom of the pyramid.

3. Pay attention to the informal economy: Most of our life is spent in cities. Our friends and family live in cities. Semi-urban areas or the rural villages are alien to us. But these are the places where the next set of opportunities lie. They are not what we come across in our daily life we have to go our of our way to tap into this other economy. Their problems are different for example, uninterrupted electrical supply which we take for granted is a dream for most people outside the major metros in India. This means to make a computer work, we need an alternate and cost-effective power supply.

4. Use global family networks: India has its Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), China has its Overseas Chinese. Can they be persuaded to partake (for profit) in the computing buildout? For example, can NRIs get together and provide Rs 150,000 (USD 3,000) to put together a 10-computer lab for the village/school that was part of their childhood? This microfinance can, in a distributed manner, complement the resources that are available via NGOs and the government.

5. Understand that customers dont know how to be customers: According to me, one of the reasons (besides price) for the poor off-take of computers in the emerging markets is that people and enterprises still dont know what to do with them besides the regular email, browsing and Office applications. Whats needed is the creation of application bundles relevant for different verticals, and appropriate training for end-users on how to make the best use of the computers. A community portal where the users can share experiences and ask questions about computing without being embarrassed about their ignorance would also be very helpful.

Monday: 10 Ideas to Tap Invisible Markets (continued)

TECH TALK The Rs 5,000 PC Ecosystem+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.