The story that has dominated headlines this last week is the first ever visit to India for Apple CEO, Tim Cook. As with anyone who is visiting a country for the first time, there was a mixed itinerary, including dining with the who’s who of Bollywood’s elite, to meeting and launching an app for PM Narendra Modi, to launching their very own accelerator in an attempt to access more of the Indian market. In recent months, it has been well documented that Apple stock hasn’t been performing to its very high historic standards and perhaps Mr Cook believes the Indian market is the shot in the arm that can help them with exactly that. The likelihood is that the ever growing smartphone market in India is just too big a carrot to ignore for one of the world’s most valuable companies.
More like a continent than a country; India could never be accused of not being diverse in nature. This, of course, brings its challenges for those struggling to make ends meet but equally provides opportunity to those who have the desire and will to thrive. In this case, the bottom of the affordability pyramid is very large and given India’s aspirational nature at its core even the poorest would like to own a smartphone. Therefore, you won’t be surprised to read this is a second attempt to launch a cheap smartphone in India. It’s a different company this time and unbelievably the phone is even CHEAPER at only 99 Rupees (that in old money is around £1!!). I believe the intention is clear here – the nation wants to come online so the tools need to be provided. Of course, it’s very easy to understand why manufacturers would be interested in entering the smartphone market in India given the demographic dividend and therefore potential of the market.
Something we at Earlsfield Capital have always maintained is the importance of exceptional entrepreneurs. Nothing typifies this more than the ability for a founder or founding team to pivot given daily unforeseen risks and challenges. This is why we put so much emphasis on entrepreneurs when assessing businesses. It is, therefore, imperative for entrepreneurs to have the ability to ‘roll with the punches’. Specifically, no one can predict what will come in the future, however, having a forward thinking approach gives an entrepreneur every chance to manage change at a high pace; creating as little friction as possible.
One might still be forgiven for thinking of India as a nation with little to no clout in the grand scheme of world power. However, by way of India’s status as one of the world’s top importers of crude oil it has been flexing its proverbial muscle. This is a great example of the global demand & supply shift towards a consumer driven market which India seems to be taking advantage of. The great thing is deals are being struck at lower prices on a forward-looking basis; which can only be good for the Indian economy.
To conclude this week’s post I simply couldn’t resist sharing an article from outside of India which seems like something out of a sci-fi movie. I’m not sure about you but when biometric authentication was first introduced it seemed like real progress was being made from the traditional password and PIN convention. Well, imagine if you could do this by simply putting on a pair of glasses to achieve the same goal? Let me explain; researchers in Germany believe they have discovered a more secure way of using one’s skull to provide a digital access code with the use of Google Glass. With India’s history of skipping generations of technology, who knows, maybe it will be the go-to nation for mass adoption of progressive technologies like these in the future.
One thing is clear; India is manoeuvring itself on many fronts for whatever the world of technology is throwing its way…
Author: Dishang Patel