In 2014, Intel aims to be an important player in mobile biz: Kumud Srinivasan

Written by Shruti Ambavat | Updated: Jan 25 2014, 02:47am hrs
IntelUS-based multinational semiconductor chip-maker Intel?s Indian arm is aggressive in its plans to lead the domestic market sales.
US-based multinational semiconductor chip-maker Intels Indian arm is aggressive in its plans to lead the domestic market sales. The firm will be investing over $120 million in the country to consolidate its R&D infrastructure. Intel India has outlined a clear roadmap to deepen its roots in the country, introduce new products and leverage the 4,200 plus employee base in the country. Intel India president Kumud Srinivasan spoke to Shruti Ambavat on products and sales. Edited excerpts:

Are there any India-specific products that Intel is looking at targeting

One of the things that we are exploring is partnering with our counterparts in Intel China to see how we can leverage the low-cost manufacturing that they have there. We are looking at leveraging that supply chain to lower the costs of some of the products particularly tablets and then introduce them to the India market.

In earlier interactions you mentioned that you dream to make India a manufacturing hub. Any success in implementing that plan

What we are looking at doing is help India develop its manufacturing sector and find a win-win situation both for India and Intel. I recently met the Nasscom president and he mentioned that one could argue that in the last couple of decades while the IT industry grew by leaps and bounds, the manufacturing industry, like the electronics, slipped. And today, we are seeing the impact of that. People talk about how electronics is going to very soon surpass oil as a percentage of our imports. Very little of these everyday components are being manufactured in India today. That is what we would like to work with the government and industry forums like Nasscom on and this is how we can help to revive the electronics segment. We would like to move some of the supply chain to India since there are various components like lower and higher-level value-added products. We can also advice the Indian government in their efforts to bring silicon manufacturing to the country, given our vast experience in the segment.

What projects or talks have you already initiated with the Indian government

We have initiated something in the education space where we are working to drive up the level of digital literacy in India. Because even if a person is functionally illiterate, he can be digitally literate. Intel started this with other companies and now the government has adopted it as one of their programmes.

How do you work with the government to make people in India digitally literate

It is a multi-faceted programme. We define targets for the government, which we want to go after, and also what is the pace going to be. By 2020, we want one person in every household to be digitally literate. But only through partnerships, like ours with the government, it can be ensured that the growth will be an inclusive one, otherwise the digitally illiterate will be left out and we will see this technology divide become more and more exacerbated. In manufacturing, too, we are trying to understand what the government is doing, what Nasscom is trying to do. We are trying to understand what other forums like India Electronic and Semiconductors Association are doing.

How do you perceive the Indian market and the consumer today

PC penetration in the Indian market continues to be less than 10%, which shows a huge upside possibility. As we push on digital literacy, we expect more people to understand the value of PC and through that drive up the penetration. The market is price sensitive but we believe what is actually hampering the penetration of PCs is that the market is not fully appreciating the value of its usage. Programmes like digital literacy will help address that. On the mobility end, both tablets and phones are seeing a spectacular growth, faster than what we expected. You hear a lot about the India market being segmented and fragmented but when you look at mobile devices, they are experiencing a viral demand.

Intel has delayed its entry into the mobile devices segment as compared to its peers. What is the plan now

We have acknowledged that we were slow in getting into mobiles and tablets but today we have very strong roadmaps in place. In 2014, Intel expects to become an important player in this segment. We see this year as the turnaround year for our presence in these markets. When it comes to things like wearables and Internet of things, it was dominant at the CES this year for Intel and that is because we do not want to find ourselves in that same position again when it comes to new trends. When it comes to wearables, we have put ourselves into a very good position in terms of processes and devices that will go into the heart of these devices.

As far as India is concerned, where do you see the wearables market today

If you go back a few years and look at phones and how they caught on here, India leapfrogged when it comes to phones. I was in the US then and I remember the usage model that were coming out of India were more sophisticated than the usage model in the western economies. Phones caught on in a viral fashion and people became extremely creative in how they started incorporating phones into everyday life. I think wearables has a similar potential in India.

Is 2014 going to be the year when Intel launches its wearables and internet of things devices in the Indian market

I think 2014 is when we are going to start trying to understand the market and make a few introductions. For the India market, we are looking at focusing on the notebook segment and secondly, on tablets.

What kind of partnerships are you looking at

When it comes to manufacturing component devices in India, the role that we would be playing is where we essentially support a partnership with the local manufactures like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava and the government, industry forum to see how we can create a manufacturing ecosystem in India like the one that has been created in China. We are talking to everyone as of now since we are just in the definition phase.