BENGALURU: Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge today said he would take up any demand for formation of trade unions in information technology sector for discussion if the workers bring it to the notice of the state government.
“Though this is a subject matter of Labour Ministry, I am the custodian of IT industry, and I will take up any demand for formation of trade unions in information technology for discussion if the employees of giant IT companies bring it to the notice of the government,” Kharge told PTI on the occasion of May Day here.
“After all, the government is here to support all sections of the society. .We are ready to do whatever best we can.. But, before we could address the best part, I have to hear from the stakeholders,” he said.
The minister was responding to a query on whether the government planned to allow formation of trade unions in IT sector along the lines of Tamil Nadu and Telangana governments.
He also clarified that he has not received any request from software employees till date on the formation of unions.
The state cabinet in October 2013 had taken a decision to exempt IT companies from labour law for a further five years, which was announced by the then IT Minister S R Patil.
The attempt made by the state to bring the sector under the law in March 2013, had caused dread and despair among the software companies, which were just slowly recovering from a global economic slump.
To another question, Kharge said it would be difficult for the government to pitch for formation of trade unions on its own, because IT is a tricky industry, unlike the traditional businesses, where the growth story does not have quick highs and lows.
“Suddenly there is a buzz around dizzying valuations and the next moment the company goes burst,” he said.
On giving preferential treatment for a relatively stable IT industry, Kharge said, “It (sops or preferential treatment) will not be there forever.. I think everybody understands that.. We have been for decades in this industry, but there is still so much more potential for us to reach.”
“Therefore, the industry needs assistance,” he said.
However, he denied giving preferential treatment to IT industry alone and said Siddaramaiah government is giving all kinds of sops to other industries also.
“That we are giving a preferential treatment only to IT, that is a myth.
If you look at our industrial policy, we are giving incentives to manufacturing units and other industries.
Any company that provides jobs and improves economy, we are here to offer them sops,” he said.
Dimension Data (DD) secures the perimeters of wildlife sanctuaries using a mix of scanners, biometrics, CCTVs, drone surveillance, sensors, etc, and utilises the cloud for analysis of the data collected from these devices.
This is different from the traditional approach of conservationists to track the endangered animals through darting and collars, rather than tracking down the poachers. In the case of rhinos, they either dehorn rhinos or paint the horn to make it unattractive.
“It’s not the problem of the animal.It’s a problem with the people trying to kill the animal,“ said Jason Goodall, CEO of Dimension Data. “So, let’s get the people trying to kill the animal.“
Under the connected conservation project, DD has partnered with Cisco to first secure a 50,000-acre game reserve in South Africa to save white rhinos in a pilot project. “This gives eyes and ears to rhino protectors who can despatch a rapid response in case of an intrusion,“ Goodall said.“Using the predictive modelling and sensors hidden all over the park, we can track any unnatural movement in the park,“ he said.
Goodall said the company eyes a big opportunity in India.
The fight to protect tigers is underway across the world. Three of the original nine subspecies of tigers have gone extinct over the past 80 years. Goodall is confident that Dimension Data can reverse this trend. “We can use the same technology and leverage the work we have done in SA to bring it to India,“ he said. He said at the end of 15 months of its project to save white rhinos in South Africa, there was a 96% reduction in the number of rhinos poached.
The managed services company , which came to India in 1995, has more than 1,900 employees in the country . It manages State Bank of India’s network of 20,000 branches and 65,000 ATMs.
Goodall said the company plans to increase its investment in cyber security .
Kiran Bhagwanani, India CEO of Dimension Data, said, “The fastestgrowing vertical in India in the past three years is security , especially after the RBI norms.“
He said creation of bank accounts under Jan-Dhan Yojana and the push for cashless transactions post demonetisation has led banks to focus more on digital capabilities.
Post demonetisation other enterprises too needed to get ready for digital transactions, creating more opportunities for Dimension Data that creates digital infrastructure and manages it, Bhagwanani said.
KOLKATA: Apple‘s iconic offline stores in India is still far away, with the company first planning to set up its own online store by this year piggy-riding on the fact that local manufacturers can have a direct online presence in the country.
Apple will initially start its online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and the product portfolio will be expanded as it grows the local production to other models.
Two senior industry officials said Apple’s online store plans does not require foreign direct investment (FDI) approval in retail since the government allows companies to directly sell online models manufactured locally. The company plans to start assembling of iPhones in Bengaluru by June.
“Apple will initially start its online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and will be in line with government policies. The company is hopeful to start the online store in India around Diwali,” said one of the executive.
It may also sell some accessories which will be sourced from India. For Apple, around 50-55 per cent of the iPhones sold in India is generated from online sales as compared to the smartphone industry average of 30 per cent. Apple will not compete on price with online marketplaces for the products it sells through its own online store.
Instead, Apple plans to differentiate its online store in India from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart by offering value-added services such as laser engraving to personalise the handset, sell models or variants which are exclusive such as a dedicated model, colour option or storage space, the executive said.
An email sent to Apple did not elicit any response till Sunday press time. Globally, Apple operates its online store in 39 countries including several of them which do not have the companyowned offline stores which is present in about 20 countries.
The brick-and-mortar Apple Stores in India will be limited in number and the company is looking at 4-5 such flagship outlets over the next 5-10 years. This is due to the fact that such stores require huge space to suit its architectural design and comes up over iconic locations which are far and few. The offline Apple Stores will initially come up in the metroes.
Apple’s local assembling will start with the iPhoneSE through Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron’s facility in Bengaluru. The company has plans to scale it up to few other iPhone models and is also open to start with its other global partner Foxconn which is already operating couple of plants in the country.
There are plans to set up a full-fledged manufacturing operation in the country including its component manufacturer base and has sought tax exemptions from the government for that. The government is yet to give its approvals on the concessions sought.
NEW DELHI: Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is planning to begin exports to the Middle East, North Africa and other South East Asian countries from India in the next two to three years after having broken into the ranks of the top five smartphone makers in India.
The company, which had the No. 4 spot with 10 per cent share of smartphones in January-March quarter, as per Counterpoint, plans to add local manufacturing facilities from where smartphone exports would take off, while it focuses on growing its presence in the online market over the next couple of years.
“In the next 2-3 years, in line with our plan, we will begin exporting the manufactured phones out of India to Middle East, North Africa and other South Asian markets. Currently the products offered to our Indian consumers are made in India,” Sky Li, global VP and India president, told ET.
The company intends to make India a hub for exports to these countries and South Asia, the way it uses China at present, highlighting the increased focus on the India market.
Over the last couple of quarters, Oppo is one of the Chinese brands that have snatched market share away from incumbent Indian handset makers as well as global players such as Samsung on the back of aggressive marketing, which included high commission to retail and trade channels and taking over store front displays across several offline markets in the country.
Oppo has bought 110 acres of land from the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) for Rs 145 crore to set up a manufacturing unit, where the company plans to invest up to Rs 2,000 crore to build a large manufacturing complex to house assembly units but also residential units for 30,000 people it plans to employ.
“We already have one assembly factory in Noida that began production in July 2016. The rest is still under construction and we will share an update at an appropriate time,” Li said when asked for details on the plan.
NEW DELHI: The proposed US H-1B visa restrictions may open a door for India’s IT industry in Russia with the two sides exploring cooperation in both software and hardware sectors during the visit of a Russian minister here last week.
Rashid Ismailov, deputy minister of telecom and mass communication, who led a team of IT experts from Russia, not only explored cooperation with the Indian IT ministry but also held dialogue with members of NASSCOM, India’s apex software body on joint cooperation in software sector.
Cooperation in the area of cyber-security to combat radical groups and other threats were also discussed between the visiting minister and Indian officials.
St Petersburg International Economic Forum or SPIEF, to be held on June 1-3 and where India is the guest country this year, might witness certain concrete outcomes from the Indo-Russian partnership in IT sector, persons familiar with the developments said. Some members of NASSCOM are expected to take part in SPIEF where PM Narendra Modi is the guest of honour.
It is no secret that neither Indian IT giants nor Russian IT industry have so far made inroads in each other’s countries notwithstanding their respective achievements over the past decades. While India has world class software industry, Russia has made substantial progress in the areas of computer programming, Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
Skolkovo, the leading Russian technology hub, with partnerships with Boeing, IBM and MIT, is keen to partner Indian IT giants.
This tech hub on the outskirts of Moscow comprises about 1,000 companies including startups. Indian oil companies have expressed interest in software for oil exploration developed by Rock Flow Dynamics, a Skolkovo-based company.
Skolkovo is also known for developing technologies for smart cities and keen to enter Indian smart cities sector. Simultaneously, a lesser known fact is that India is establishing an IT cluster in Moscow. Russian officials point out that their IT firms have undertaken world class innovation but lack marketing and this is where Indian IT giants can assist creating a win-win situation for both sides.
Recently the union cabinet approved a MoU to promote joint scientific and research activities between India and Russia.
Under this MoU valid for five years, India and Russia will exchange information, establish direct connections between specialists, scientists and scientific organisations, form projects aimed at joint research and aim at development of interdisciplinary and multi-institutional projects with the involvement of industry.
NEW DELHI: An estimated 536 million Indians are expected to use regional languages while online by 2021, complemented by increasing affordability of devices and data charges and availability of more local content, a report by Google-KPMG says.
The report estimates that Hindi Internet users (at 201 million) will outnumber those accessing the web in English at 199 million by 2021.
India is expected to have 735 million Internet users by the same time from 409 million in 2016.
Interestingly, a significant number of Indian language Internet users already access government services, classifieds, news and payment services “exclusively online”.
Indic language users are not just accessing chat apps and digital entertainment but are also opting for digital payments methods.
In 2016, the total number of Internet users who accessed Internet in Indian languages and English stood at 234 million and 175 million, respectively.
Apart from Hindi, Marathi and Bengali users are expected to drive volume growth, while Tamil, Kannada and Telegu users are expected to be among the most digitally engaged through 2016 to 2021.
Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu online users are expected to form almost one-third of the total Indic language user base.
“Growth in user base will be complemented by increasing penetration of Internet enabled devices, availability of affordable high speed Internet, rising digital literacy and Indian language enablement of the ecosystem bringing and engaging more Indian language users online,” the report says.
Given that nine out of 10 new Internet users in India are likely to be an Indic language user, Google has been ramping support for Indian languages across its various products like Maps and Search.
This will ensure that more people can access Internet in a language of their choice.
As the CIO of Essar Group Companies, Jayantha established the technology vision and transformed various business processes by adopting mobility, cloud, analytics and digital to drive business growth.
As a global solution integrator AGC Networks represents leading brands in Unified Communications, Network Infrastructure & Data Center, Cyber Security and Enterprise Applications to evolve the customer’s digital landscape.
A leader in enterprise communications in India, AGC has the significant presence across the Middle East, Africa, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines and UK serving over 3000 customers.
The five-kilometre stretch from IFFCO Chowk to Two Horizon Centre — which houses the corporate office of Samsung India — in Gurgaon’s Sector 43 is strewn with pale blue. The billboards along the road are blue, advertising kiosks sprouting all over the Millennium City are painted blue and even Metro pillars strapped with promotional screens are flashing blue, urging users to take selfies with dual-front camera.
Asim Warsi, sitting relaxed on the twenty-second floor of Samsung’s office, too, flaunts a particular shade of blue: the reverse side of the visiting card of the senior vice-president of Samsung India is in blue. But it is “Samsung blue”, dark and deep, unlike the light blue of the Chinese smartphone maker Vivo that is splashed across streets and screens.
Over the last six months, the Chinese brand has beamed over 691 hours of commercials, making it the most visible mobile brand on the small screen of late. From a meagre 0.35% market share in overall handset market in the first quarter of last year, Vivo is now the fourth largest brand in India with 6.5% share, according to the latest numbers from the marketing research firm CyberMedia Research (CMR).
Perched on the third slot, with 6.7% market share, is desi brand Micromax which was dislodged from the top five smartphone rankings last year. Little known Chinese brand Itel has maintained its second place with 7.2%. Warsi, who heads the product planning and marketing team, however, is not flustered by the sea of Vivo blue as Samsung continues to lead the charts with 26% overall handset share and 28% smartphone share.
It takes a lot of things to become a market leader, to consolidate the position and be the most trusted brand, says Warsi. “We don’t believe in the next spec, but in the next experience,” he says, adding that an extra mega pixel makes no perceptible difference to the life of the consumer. “It doesn’t matter.” While “spec” might appear superficial to India’s largest handset player, for a bunch of Chinese mobile brands that ventured into India over the last two years, it means a lot. The top four Chinese players — Vivo, Xiaomi, Oppo and Lenovo — have not only grabbed 40.3% of the smartphone market share in Q1 of this year, they have also continued to stamp their dominance by not letting any Indian player enter the top five for the second consecutive quarter.
Vivo, the second largest smartphone brand in India, which entered the country in 2014, has leapfrogged from 10.69% smartphone share in December quarter of 2016 to 15.2% in the first quarter of this year, according to CMR’s preliminary data exclusively released to ET Magazine. Combined with the market share of its sister brands Oppo and OnePlus — all made by the same Chinese manufacturer, BBK Electronics — Vivo is closing in on Samsung in India. This is the big China-Korea battle for Indian smartphone market.
The Chinese Juggernaut “Chinese brands have started to hit Samsung,” says Tarun Pathak, senior analyst (mobile devices and ecosystem), Counterpoint Research. Despite having a huge portfolio of products, robust distribution network and massive retail reach, Samsung has been losing ground to Chinese upstarts.
The reasons are not hard to fathom. Unlike a global company like Samsung, which straddles several segments and price points, from entry level to premium and luxury, Chinese companies have a leaner portfolio. “It makes them all the more menacing,” says Pathak.
An average of 6 SKUs (stock keeping units or products) ensures three things: aggressive advertising, speedier product-to-market and removal of segmented marketing. Interestingly, Chinese brands have also created their own niches by focusing on selfie cameras, music and other specs. Gradually, it has weaned users from the leader. For instance, users looking for a good selfie camera in the Rs 25,000-30,000 bracket, which the top brand might not be offering, switch to Chinese companies, points out Pathak, adding that products launched on the basis of consumer insight have worked wonders.
Take Jagriti Kakkar. When the 28-year-old advertising executive in Gurgaon decided to dump her “over-priced” iPhone and go for Oppo last week, the reasons were dual. At Rs 31,000, she reckons, F3 Plus is value for money. “And dual-selfie camera is the icing on the cake,” grins Kakkar, who has lost count of the photos clicked by her. When Oppo — which entered India in 2014 and has actor Deepika Padukone as its endorser — launched F3 Plus, a dual-selfie camera handset, last month, it was not a shot in the dark. The product was based on consumer insight and rolled out after extensive market research by Nielsen.
Sky Li, global vice-president of Oppo, says that over 66% of consumers surveyed whined that while taking a group selfie it was difficult to fit everyone in the frame. Oppo realised that a wider angle camera will create perfect group selfies. “It’s a feature that most Indian consumers are demanding in their smartphones,” says Li, who also heads operations in India, which is one of the fastest growing regions for Oppo. This kind of careful research has helped it snatch 9% market share and become the fourth largest smartphone brand in India.
What has also helped the Chinese companies trump their Indian counterparts is their focus on incentives to channel partners. Vivek Zhang, chief marketing officer of Vivo Mobiles India, says that realigning of distribution strategy has proved decisive. In the two years since its debut, Vivo carried out extensive ground work to develop a strong offline retail base, resulting in a better understanding of the users, claims Zhang. With stores in 400 cities across 22 states, Vivo also happens to be the first Chinese smartphone player to set up a manufacturing unit in India.
“In just over two years, Vivo has established itself as a premium smartphone brand,” he says. It’s not only the Vivo-Oppo onslaught from two flanks that is posing trouble for Samsung. Another Chinese brand is snapping at its heels. Xiaomi closes in on Samsung as the smartphone shipments grow 11% in Q1 of this year, according to Canalys’ latest market report. With Samsung in first place, significant sequential growth saw Xiaomi and Vivo take second and third place respectively. Lenovo moved up a place to fourth, while Oppo fell back to fifth, says the media release by Canalys. While Samsung maintains its market share with sustained Jseries shipment to its established, offline distribution partners, ensuring that it stays on top, Xiaomi accounts for 14% of shipments in the quarter, up from 3% a year ago.
“Xiaomi’s success in India is underscored by its online strategy. Demonetisation seems to have had no impact on it, as its target customer is young, internet-enabled and buys primarily online,” says Canalys research analyst Ishan Dutt. Xiaomi, which started as a purely online player and was the biggest smartphone brand in the online market with 29.3% share in the last quarter of 2016, sold over 3.6 million devices in March-December 2016.
For a company that has crossed annual revenues of $1 billion in India, its largest market outside China, this is not a small feat. “Today, we are present in more than 10,000 stores via our innovative offline distribution network,” says Manu Jain, vice-president of Xiaomi, adding that the company sells in more than 14,000 pin codes each week through its five online partners.
Ironically, Android, which has helped Samsung establish its smartphone leadership, has turned to be a potent weapon in its rivals’ armoury. “It is this very ecosystem that makes it possible for other brands to pose a challenge to Samsung,” says Deepak Kumar, analyst at B&M Nxt. That’s why innovation and customer-centric approach are important to create brand differentiation.
While Samsung continues to be a stronger brand than most of its competitors, Kumar believes that continued effort is required to keep it relevant to the needs of various market segments. It would need to differentiate on various fronts and also communicate more effectively to users and make them aware of those differentiations. “Innovation needs to be more disruptive across all price segments,” he says. At present, Samsung is more visible in higher price segments, while the mid segment, where Chinese players are the most active, is not adequately addressed, says Kumar, adding that Indian companies too vacated this space, which proved to be their undoing.
Desis Fall Behind The desi brands squandered their first-mover advantage to connect with the youth. While most focused on first-time smartphone users, who were graduating from feature phones, they failed to see the exponential growth in smartphone replacement market. According to a recent survey by Counterpoint Research, two in three users plan to upgrade to a new mobile phone in the next 12 months. The earlier upgrade cycle of 24-30 months on an average by an Indian consumer has now come down to under 20 months.
While users are looking to upgrade to a phone with 4G LTE capability and VoLTEready, they also aspire to have a phone with better memory and battery life. One in three respondents is considering phones with a fingerprint sensor and better front-facing, selfie cameras as key features in their next purchase, the survey points out. Homegrown brands made another strategic blunder. While Chinese brands were aggressively hitting the territory, Indian players were juggling between selling and learning manufacturing. This divided their focus and resource application, says Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst at CMR.
Visibility and top-of-the-mind recall help brands grab consumers. Take Sagar Mittal who bought a Vivo smartphone in January. Reason: sleek design, high-quality camera and a better battery life, says Mittal, an undergraduate student in Delhi University’s North Campus, who had never bought a Chinese brand before. What gave Mittal confidence to go for a Chinese brand, he says, was the familiarity with Indian brands which he had used for a couple of years. “Most of the so-called Indian brands were cheap Chinese knockoffs, to start with,” he says. Resistance to Chinese brands melted away as Indians realised that the desi brands they bought were originating from China.
No Threat to Samsung, So Far While conceding that Samsung’s shares have been fluctuating, CMR’s Kawoosa doesn’t see a distinct threat to the South Korean major. “We don’t see a face-off between Samsung and Chinese brands any time soon,” he says, adding that even if it happens, Samsung is diligent enough to decide its own course. The two strengths, says Kawoosa, that will help Samsung are its sheer size and technology intellect. Further, Samsung is important in several segments through the value chain, such as memory and processors, he adds.
Warsi too doesn’t see any threat to Samsung’s dominant position. Sipping on masala tea and looking out the window at the concrete jungle of Gurgaon, he offers pearls of wisdom. “Any brand that stays connected to the consumer will stay connected to the market,” he says, adding that there are no shortcuts and there is no rocket science behind cracking the Indian market. Credibility and an understanding of Indian conditions over the past two decades have been pillars of its success, reckons Warsi. While other brands were planning to hop on to the Make in India bandwagon, Samsung upped the ante by focusing on another aspect which might have been missed by others: Make for India.
A Make for India task force, comprising employees from Samsung’s R&D, innovation, products and marketing divisions, was set up to understand the needs of the Indian consumer. Subsequently, the team drew up a list of India-specific features that resulted in the launch of the Galaxy J series.
The Ultra Data Saving (UDS) mode, which provides up to 50% mobile data savings with data compression, for instance, was rolled out in September 2015. UDS also delivers up to 2x battery standby time and frees up 11% RAM, leading to faster device performance, claims Warsi, adding that UDS saw over 50% adoption among Galaxy J series users. The S Bike mode, another India-centric innovation launched in March last year, worked on the insight that incoming calls were a major source of distraction for bikers. The S Bike mode has a smart reply feature, where callers will receive an auto-SMS informing them when the user will be available for a call. “Today, the feature has been implemented in Latin America, Middle East and Southwest Asia, following its success in India,” says Warsi.
The next innovation was Turbo Speed Technology (TST). Introduced in July last year, it helps in superior device performance, by shutting down idle processes running in the background and de-cluttering RAM. “We believe in offering the next meaningful innovation rather than in inundating users with specs and Mbps,” says Warsi.
Although Samsung’s market share has been stagnating, it is too early to write off the South Korean biggie, which won’t be a pushover like the desi players, say marketing experts. Ashita Aggarwal, head of marketing department at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, says Samsung has been in similar situations in the past. “It trampled Nokia, survived a scare from Micromax and kept Apple at bay,” she says, adding that Samsung’s massive network of over 1.5 lakh retail outlets gives it a huge marketing muscle. What might also help the brand is the massive advertising spend by the Chinese rivals that might soon find it difficult to sustain the tempo. “Meteoric rise is mostly accompanied by meteoric fall,” she adds.
Micromax, the largest homegrown player, which was earlier considered a knockoff of Chinese brands, is betting on the possibility of a Chinese burnout. Conceding that Chinese brands became active in the offline space last year, Micromax cofounder Rahul Sharma recently said that the pace is not sustainable. “Even Samsung isn’t visible right now,” he reportedly said in Bengaluru. “There’s blue (Vivo) and green (Oppo) everywhere… it’s not sustainable.” Micromax didn’t reply to an email sent by ET Magazine. While an imminent burnout of these top Chinese players — like LeEco, which ran out of cash and is reportedly exiting India ¡X is debatable, the desi companies as well as Samsung will have to be on their toes to avoid getting trampled by the Chinese juggernaut.
NEW DELHI: The government wants iPhone maker Apple to consider a new manufacturing scheme offering duty benefits to set up its plants in the country.
“Apple had asked for a set of concessions. For a period of 15 years all the components that Apple imports, they want them to be free of duty. We have a phased manufacturing programme (PMP) because we want more and more value addition to come to the country. We want them to understand how this PMP will work and how they can dovetail into that,” Ministry of Electronics and IT Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters today.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
“Right now the value addition is minimal. We want to take it up. For that purpose we have just announced phased manufacturing programme for mobile phones,” Sundararajan said.
According to Indian Cellular Association, the PMP is expected to increase local value addition in mobile phone manufacturing to increase to 39-50 per cent in next 3 years.
Under PMP, the government has already imposed additional duty on import of mobile charger, battery pack and wired headset in 2016-17.
In 2017-18, key components like mobile microphone and receiver, USB Cable, key pads will attract duty benefits. Components like camera module, mobile antenna etc will be given incentives or duty benefit in 2018-19 if procured locally by handset makers.
Mobile phone makers will get benefit of tax or incentives on the touch panels, mobile screen, vibrator motor or ringer from 2019-20 onwards under the programme.
The phased manufacturing programme was proposed by a joint panel of the industry and the government – Fast Track Task Force. The panel set up under the MeitY has set target of 500 million handset production by 2019 and export target of 120 million mobile phones by 2019-20, taking annual manufacturing output in the range of Rs 1.5-3 lakh crore.
In 2016-17, total value of mobile phone to be produced in India is likely to reach Rs 90,000 crore from Rs 54,000 crore in 2015-16.