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Phones Please

by Brandi Moore on February 9, 2009

India has put forward some numbers this year that we would CHEER about here in the US in terms of growth rates. Nasscom suggests that things will be up about 15-18%. Yet. For some reason. This story makes the back page of every major newspaper and we go on saying their economy is “bleak”. It feels like we want to hide the success of the countries we are outsourcing to from the American public. Sometimes I think India needs a PR campaign around their business success but then I realize that they might already have one that is quashed in the US.

On a brighter note the numbers announced in the cell phone sector this week were exciting. One carrier reported signing up 11 million customers in India in January. I love this! Why? We have created a technology that is priced at the right price for poor users to have access to the functionally. People that make less than 800 dollars a year have chosen to spend some of their money on a cell phone. Isn’t this supposed to be what technology is all about? Helping people in a way that they never imagined?

This is the kind of development that creatives need to watch. How can we capture the Indian market place—the real market place? The majority of the population that lives on less than $1000/yr? These cell phone companies are charging about $60 for the phone and then about 2 cents for each minute. Indians are very value conscious. They quickly surmise how much it costs to take a bus to the location where they find out the pricing of rice (so they can make planting plans appropriately) or the price of milk or traveling to see family (which is very, very important in this culture). These cents add up to a true value offer around being able to call relatives or the market for pricing of rice or someone who knows the schedule of the bus so one does not have to wait for hours in the heat.

The list of things these new buyers can do is endless because of technology. Suddenly they are connected to the rest of the world. A world they may have had to walk for days to see in the past.

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