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National Column
ďIt happened when we were readyĒ
Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, talks to B&E about Microsoftís mobile OS plans
Issue Date - 30/04/2012
B&E: Android phones, BlackBerrys, and iPhones are already strong in the Indian market. Havenít you arrived a little late?
Bhaskar Pramanik (BP): The beauty of India and the Indian market is that itís never too late to enter. If you look at a category in terms of product, market and technology, we are just at the cusp. Itís the same thing with mobile phones. So I donít think we are late. We are entering at a time when the opportunity to grow is the maximum. Remember, smartphones are growing at a rate of 60%, with three million in annual sales. That makes us a seven to eight million device market by 2015. So we feel that Microsoft is very well poised, and is entering the market at the right time.

B&E: Your first device showcased some days ago by Samsung (Omnia) was priced close to Rs.20,000. In comparison, Android devices come for as low as Rs.5,000. So have you discussed with your manufacturing partners about the low cost options as well?
BP: We havenít specified to our partners the price or cost at which they should retail their phones. Itís for them to decide. But we are very clear about the kind of experience that users should get. We donít necessarily agree with the Android strategy. If thereís one thing we all have learnt from Steve Jobs, it is that customer experience is paramount. There is no lack of buyers for the proper customer experience. The moment customer experience deteriorates, people will not touch your products irrespective of the price. The second point I would like to make is that the Indian consumer never buys the cheapest product. We have a customer segment that we have in mind and are clear about it. We are not here to go out against Android. And I am not saying anything against the masses, they are choosy as well. They donít buy a certain kind of product if it doesnít work, and if they donít get the desired experience.

B&E: Are you open to the Windows-phone OS being made available to Indian manufacturers as well?
BP: We are making our technology available to everybody, but with very clear specifications in terms of the hardware. And discussions are on with some Indian manufacturers as well. Like I said, we are not going after the price in our mobile foray. We are going after a segment and the customer experience. The pricing we have currently is most appropriate. Itís not the most expensive, and itís not the cheapest.

B&E: Has the popularity of Googleís Android prompted Microsoft to focus on the mobile OS business?
BP: We have been on the phone-side earlier as well. Now with the consumerisation of IT, it is very important for us to have a strong leadership presence in this business. We were working towards it for some time, and it happened when we were ready and not on account of any of the external factors, which you are talking about.


Onkar Pandey           

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