Crazy Mobile Growth – What are causes ?

I am really scratching my head to find out who are the influencers for the Indian mobile markets ?  What tips consumer market behaviours here.  what are the information that Indian mobile buyers use before purchasing a mobile. A friend’s recommendation, TV ad, recommendation websites.  I read/watch all the top Indian mobile blogs, forums &  news snippets, TV shows but I doubt from what I have seen that these really cause much of what is happening ?

Is the main stream media(MSM) the sole channel for demand creation. If so then how did Windows Mobile ship more than a 1 million unit recently ?  Was it because of extensive print/TV marketing campaign or did retailers play a major role by cross selling or upselling. What is causing Nokia to have increasing growth even in smartphone category in India ? How and why are people in villages and tier 2 cities purchasing N Series phone ?

What are the market drivers leading to such accelerated growth. I speak to many mobile industry thought leaders, implementors, service providers , vendors but none seem to have a clue. Everybody is happy seeing these change and wants to leverage & exploit but nobody seems to have any answer of why it is happening.

The growth rate seems to be following an exponential pattern akin to what you see in viral growth trajectory . But then there are no examples of viral marketing in India.  I can count many examples of word of mouth in India but viral marketing is almost non-existent. (The difference between the two is that message passing in the former is decay function and hece non exponential growth curve while the latter is an increasing function) . Which is what led to me to question at the beginning of the post. Who/What are the influencers ?

Quest is on to find it out ? Any ethnographers or marketeer or anyone else knows any bits of the answer ?


  1. jayaram says:

    this is a np hard problem- best of luck !

  2. Sangfroid says:

    and i thought u had all the answers to anything in the mobile space 😛

    cudn’t catch up wid u after MoMo … mayb coz the 1st talk had my head spinning!

  3. Santosh says:

    Mobiles are viral by nature. When you pull out a mobile and talk in front of your friends – I’ll bet that if the phone is remarkable in nature (for example, the Moto Razor) your friends are bound to ask – “What phone is that?”.

    The two points apart from viral growth that I agree with are:

    Mass-Market Advertising: Mobiles are ALWAYS advertised regularly in Print and Television.

    Deep Distribution: Mobile Brands also now have very deep distribution networks through Retail channels. What with the Mobile Store, Subhiksha and Nokia Certified Retailers all stocking every known mobile model the moment it hits the streets.

    I don’t know if it can be explained so simply. But I’d like to know the real answer too.

  4. kiran says:

    the thiing that is driving all these is peer pressure..

    mobile became a man’s ornament it shows and it also show how much one is sound in both financial and tech savvy to others..

    people dont use cameras very much i mean they dont take prints frm the mobile images but still insists they need camera to show off among others..

    we can say philosphically as , if u want make differance among the most use high end mobile.

  5. it would be interesting to see how replacement of cellphones might be another factor.
    – how often are the people replacing their cellphones for new ones. my idea is 1-2 years if you are socially active => are these the people that are going for high end phones?
    – essentially the older cellphones trickle down to parents or to seconds markets

    is increased entrepreneurial activity cause for the need for increased mobility => ergo more higher end cellphones.

    as santosh and kiran said: deep distribution channels + status symbol

    rajan, is there a link on the numbers for the activity?

  6. Rajan says:


    I would not classify it as a NP hard problem rather would say that nobody looked at it as an interesting problem. ( problem was not problem enough).As Vinod khosla says when referring to energy problem & solutions now that many problems does not get solved because there is not enough incentive to solve that problem.

    I am still trying to learn but learning by the day !

    I am not sure if I understand when you say mobile by nature is viral. The aspect of the symbol/aspirtational/fashion value of mobile as an object I can understand but that certainly does not lead to avalanche of people drumming about that message.
    Mobile is social by nature might be better but that too would be inaccurate.

    Mass marketing I agree but then many of the spreads/successes that have happened are they really a reason of mass marketing. Maybe 6600 is popular because of quite popular ads of 6600 but what would devices like 6030, why did they become as popular as 6600. Another example in the post I mentioned is the Microsoft windows phone , how did they ship a million unit. ( Only HTC was advertised)

    If you really talk to NOkia they would say that they do have many sales point ( close to a lakh I guess) but still not sufficient enough for a country like India. But what I am really wondering about is that is these retail channels very strongly influencing buy decision rather than being a sales point.


    I agree about status symbol but that is for larger urban community. Much of why rural india buys a phone because it is an investment, people retreive more value measurable in terms of money than they actually spend on phone. Rural markets are frictioned, information is supremely expensive which are some of the problems that mobile alleviates. In the monthy budget of a rural folk a mobile gets listed as a tangile asset rather than a cost item.

    I am not sure if I agree that camera is for showing off, if you look at flickr and see the list of camera’s that contribute highest number of photo ther, you would find N70 & N73 listed as the top most devices.

    That is a very good point , about the shelf life in a single hand for the phone.

    Hey which numbers/activity are you referring to ?

    Thx all for comments.


  7. @rajan
    activity wrt to breakup by sales by cities/towns. also the number of mobile phones being discarded and entering into the grey markets.

    i still think status symbol is a valid point – not in rural india but definitely in tier II cities and towns or as you said the urban market. there is atleast a huge number of people who see a highend mobile as a status symbol.

  8. Rajkumar says:

    Too much Black Money.

  9. Sujan says:

    It is simplistic to say that status is pushing Mobile Phone sales.

    REALITY CHECK:The volumes come from low end models NOT the status models like N Series.

    The answer probably is that in India’s woefully inadequate infrastructure jigsaw puzzle mobile phones is perhaps the only infrastructure that works.

    Mobile phones, connectivity & the service providers in most cases come out tops in the 3 fundamental parameters that an ordinary Indian uses to judge a potential purchase – Sasta, Sundar, Tikau.

    Loosely translated as
    1) Great bang for the buck
    2) Elegant in its simplicity / appealing to the rational, functional & emotional senses
    3) Durability / Quality / Reliability

    The Indian innovativeness comes to fore in the myriad of ways & business models the explosions has resulted in.

    If you are a Plumber or a House Painter what would you do? Pay money for a precarious & tiring bus ride everyday to find work? Or buy a cell phone & leave your number with the shop clerk at all hardware stores with a Rs. 50 tip for every deal closed?

    It is the plumber, house-painter, used paper wallah who is driving volumes. Not N Series toting youth.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.