There is no doubt the mobile telephony has been growing rapidly in India. Yet the divide between rural and urban mobile penetration is still as wide as 41 per cent. The major reason for this divide is the lack of awareness and user-friendly devices. Though the rural mobile penetration has seen an increase in the recent past due to various government initiatives like affordability and accessibility, there is a long way to go before India reaches complete mobility.
Sudhir Kumar, CEO, Tambo mobile, says that the rural market for mobile phones is expected to see manifold increase by 2020 as mobile phone seems to be the simpler answer to connect with the otherwise disconnected rural populace. What is needed is better technology, innovative products, efficient business systems, and an understanding of the need of the people. With more and more international mobile phone brands competing in the handset market, we have been successful in addressing the issue of affordability and have hence moved a step ahead.
There still is a large untapped market mostly which is rural India. One of the major reasons for Rural India to lag behind in terms of mobility is due to the gap in the literacy rate. A mobile phone is the first personal device for this audience. It is essential that these devices are easy and simple to use so the same can be used by people of any strata, literacy rate and age group.
With the home-grown brands accelerating the pace in terms of innovation, a more accessible era of phones is being established. These brands understand their audience’s needs and preferences also keep the affordability factor in mind. Affordable phones with Easy-to-use interface will help in deeper penetration of telephony in India and it will also help in bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban India. After having addressed the issue of affordability, the smartphone industry is now moving towards designing handsets that can be used by all to add the accessibility factor.
Once the untapped market which is using a phone for the first time is comfortable with the device they use, brands can aim to move towards achieving 360-degree mobility in India. Providing phones at competitive prices alone will not solve the problem of mobility in India. It is also important to recognise that India is a country with low literacy rate and a major part of the audience who do not own a mobile phone currently is due to the fact that they are uncomfortable in using the device. It is important for the mobile phone players to keep the interest of such people at the core while developing user-friendly devices which can be used by them in their own language, with dedicated features which can motivate them to own a personal device.