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BW Businessworld

It’s A War Out There

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Hand on heart, what’s the one accessory you can absolutely not do without? The one thing without which you wouldn’t even want to be stranded on a deserted island? The answer, nine times out of 10, will be the mobile phone. 
 
But this does not hold for just any phone; only a smartphone makes the cut. The last few years have seen Indians, across income levels and social strata, being deluged with such devices. They come in a multitude of price points and sizes (bigger the better). Made by a host of companies, both Indian and foreign. From as low as Rs 1,900 for a branded offering to as high as Rs 60,000 for the iPhone 6 Plus, there is a phone that fits every budget and need. 
 
This basically makes India the Ground Zero, as it were, for mobile phone brands. While the smartphone action in the country was kicked off by the likes of Nokia, Motorola and Samsung, it soon saw the rise of home-grown challengers like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava — packing in all the features for a fraction of the price. Now, the market is witnessing the arrival of players like Chinese giant Xiaomi, armed with a disruptive agenda — both in terms of marketing as well as products.
 
Associate editor Anup Jayaram chronicles the war of the handsets in our cover story this issue. For him the shifting sands of the business are a pointer to the players tweaking their strategies for an ever larger share of the Indian market.
 
Sony Pictures hacked. Celebrities’ candid photos leaked. Credit card details of 110 million Target customers stolen. All distant headlines. Not something that can happen to folks like us. Nothing could be further from the truth, as assistant editor Abraham C. Mathews discovers after trawling through the dark recesses of cyberspace.  
 
Coming back to telecom, it’s spectrum auction time once again. The government stands to rake in a whopping Rs 65,000 crore. But it should not get used to such large inflows and find other ways and means to curb its fiscal profligacy as the next big auction will come around only in 2021. Read about the impending bidding battle.  
 
In the coal sector, the impasse of the past three years is expected to end, at least partially. By March-end, 23 blocks would have been auctioned off, relieving some stress in the thermal power industry. Special correspondent Moyna takes a look at some of the challenges that coal block allocation entails.
 
Before I sign off, a reminder: the cover this issue is interactive. Download Blippar and watch it come to life. Have fun! 
 
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 09-02-2015)