by December 2, 2003 0 comments

India has never been a notebook country. At least not till now. A number of reasons have together contributed to this fact.
For starters, notebook prices were astronomically high, and while desktop prices kept falling like there would be no tomorrow, notebooks (or the notebook divisions of the same vendors, if you want to be accurate) just refused to play ball.

The second reason was the lack of a mobile business community of significant volumes in the country. If you keep the software guys out, business travel by tech-comfortable people was not too high. Finally, notebooks lagged far behind the desktops in processing capabilities.

But, all that is changing, and the coming year, I think, is when the notebook will come to on its own in India. I would even venture to bet that the notebook would be the fastest growing hardware category in the coming year. To be fair, I have the advantage of a small installed base, but a three-fold growth will indeed be impressive.

The first driver for this growth will, of course, be price. Notebook prices have been moving southward for some time. The magical figure of fifty thousand was breached first by Acer. HP followed soon enough. The others now have no choice.

Remember what happened to PC usage when the price dropped below fifty thousand rupees? And that is just the starting point. By the second half of next year, we should be seeing notebooks at the forty thousand rupees or lower price point. 

It is a bit like the domestic air travel market. Ever since deeply discounted domestic fares were announced, we are seeing more and more families travel by air. Significantly lower prices could see notebooks make their entry into colleges and even homes.

One of the biggest drivers of the PC market has been the assembler market. Notebooks have not had any luck there. That should also see some change this year. Past attempts by Intel to promote a locally assembled notebook market did not meet with much success. But, the market and the price point are now ripe for a second try. More value-for-money-players should also be launching their wares in the Indian notebook market, helping drive the prices further down.

After two years of gloom, the Indian industry is again getting ready for growth and expansion. More than that, a new generation of tech-savvy businessmen are now pursuing global strategies for growth. You have to just scan the pages of any business publication to understand this. Think of what this means for notebook usage. Add to that the growing BPO and global sourcing markets, and you begin to get a clearer picture.

And finally, the technology is also catching up. Large displays, faster processors, longer battery life, wireless networking; all of them are coming together at just the right time, and at the right price.

While it may be too early for me to wish for a notebook on every desktop, if you are in the market for PCs, it is time that you paused to consider a notebook instead.

Krishna Kumar

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