If the past five years in India were about the mobile revolution, the next five years in India will be about the home computing revolution. The installed base of computers in homes is about 7 million. About 30 million Indians access the Internet from cybercafs. The single largest technology opportunity in India is in getting these users home and spending Rs 400-500 per month on an end-to-end computing solution (device, connectivity and services).
So, what will make the home computing market trajectory over the next five years resemble that of the mobile phone adoption over the past five? I think it will be a combination of multiple elements: making computing available as a service, creating a device that is remotely manageable, centralisation applications, and keeping user data in the network cloud so that it can be accessed from the mobile phone also.
There are two relevant pipes going into homes in India copper (for telephony), and cable (for television). The Internet can piggyback onto either of these two pipes. What is needed is a device that is both affordable and manageable a device that does not compromise on performance (as compared to that of a PC as we know it today), and yet is very simple to use and does not rely on piracy to offer applications. The answer, according to me, lies in the use of a multimedia network computer where the onus of computing and storage is shifted to the server. The server resides at either the telco central office or at the cable head-end.
In this model, it now becomes possible to deliver the complete desktop and all kinds of content and applications to users in a billable manner. Think of this as a value-added services business for home computing, akin to what has happened in mobiles with ringtones, wallpapers, games and the like. Desktop advertising can be controlled from the server-side adding yet another potential source of revenue.
For consumers, it would make things easy and simple. They do not have to become their own IT administrators. They do not have to worry about losing data in case of power cuts (which are still an unfortunate reality in India). They can pay on a per-use basis for a wide range of services from education to entertainment. This will create the ecosystem of service providers willing to create these services.
2007 will see the early experiments in this category. It will be the first year in the reinvention of computing for emerging markets like India.
Tomorrow: SaaS for SMEs
TECH TALK 2007 Tech Trends+T