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Market Analysis

Dan Swinhoe (Asia)- Opportunities in India: Spoilt For Choice

India's economy is still growing despite global troubles, and the electronics industry is expected to explode to $400 billion by 2020. Its ICT sector has risen from $5.7 billion in 2000 to almost $100 billion today. But where is there left to go for growth?

Having firmly established itself as the world leader in outsourcing, the Indian BPO sector is still very strong, worth around $63.2 billion in 2012. But China is on the rise, and set to overtake the Philippines as the next biggest market, and may soon catch up with India. While China's BPO market has made revenues of $53.8 billion this year, growth for the last few years has been 43.5%, 63.6%, and 33%, compared to India's 25.4%, 23.6%, and 15.7%. While the top spot will be safe for now, companies should start looking elsewhere for future revenue.

Investing in better education to address the country's IT skills gap has proved effective in recent years, and further investment there will no doubt be profitable in the long run. The better quality of staff a company has, the smoother and more efficient the outfit is.

India's smartphone market is set to boom. The country ranks 4th in the world for its global smartphone market share. IDC expects the market to grow by 8.5% by 2016, helped by low-end models offering dual-SIM capability and local apps. Compared to neighboring China, India's market is yet to really take off, while the People's Republic is now the world's biggest. Though still expensive now, 3G in India will becoming increasingly affordable, and eventually 4G will become more widespread as well, both inevitable drivers of smartphone sales.

Tablets are gaining popularity, thought not at the same levels as smartphones. Estimates that about 800,000 tablets sold in India last year (a rise of 749% jump year-on-year) amount to a tiny fraction of the 65 million tablets sold globally. Predictions from Frost & Sullivan expect 23.38 million units to be sold by 2017, with sales doubling every year starting 2011. According to ABI Research Apple commanded a 51% share, but since then Samsung has claimed they have grown to 56% at the iPad's expense, and iseyeing further growth to 65% by the end of the year. The swathe of low-cost tablets has yet to set the market alight, even RIM's PlayBook holds a more commanding share (5-10%) than any of the local brands. Experts predict the cheaper devices may find their niche in the rural areas, where they could be people's first taste of using the internet. Though improving on quality and adding more locally relevant apps rather than just driving down costs will need to be looked at.

While tablets are growing solely, PC sales have seen year-on year growth of over 15%, shifting 2.86 million units for the quarter ended June 2012. And, according to IDC, cloud computing is due to boom, growing by 70% this year and maintaining 50% growth for the following three years, but to help facilitate this providers need to assist the companies in assessing cloud readiness, and suggest a cloud adoption roadmap accordingly. Elsewhere, if the biometrics project the government is undertaking succeeds,  there will no doubt be growth in iris/thumbprint scanners and hoards of software and equipment to help make the most of such a huge database.

E-Commerce is on the rise, and had a total worth of $10 billion last year, and has been growing steadily. Although lack of logistic networks and distrust of electronic transactions may be holding back the market's expansion, there is a lot of potential. And as adoption of personal technology expands out in the rural areas, sales of cheaper products will no doubt increase, as will sales of mid-range products as the exodus towards the cities continues.

ICT in India is in healthy shape, and still on the rise. With the government's continued drive to embrace IT, there are plenty of opportunities for vendors. It's just up to organizations and investors to pick the right ones.

By Dan Swinhoe, Editorial Assistant, IDG Connect

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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