Qualcomm has tasted sweet success in the Indian market with the country accounting for more than 100 million CDMA subscribers and the next 100 million expected to be notched up within two years. As Indian mobile services landscape evolves to next generation of high-speed networks, Qualcomm India is confident of sustaining its growth in India. Bimal Dayal, vice president and country manager, Business Development, Qualcomm India and South Asia shares his thoughts in an interaction with TelecomTiger.
Q.1 India is now ranked second in the CDMA market in terms of subscriber base. Do you feel the country can hold on, if not improve, its position especially in wake of two of the incumbent CDMA operators focusing on migration to GSM platform?
Ans: Both Reliance and Tata have publicly stated that their investment in CDMA is for the long term. They will continue to offer services based on both technologies. Today, Reliance and Tata are the second and fourth largest CDMA operators in the world, respectively. They will continue to focus on the CDMA market and grow their subscriber base. Also, there are other operators, such as BSNL and Sistema-Shyam Teleservices, who also are opting for CDMA2000. The CDMA Development Group estimates that the next 100 million subscribers will be added within the next two years.
Q.2 How do you aim to offset the impact on your business due to the move by incumbent CDMA operators to get more aggressive on the GSM space?
Ans: India is a strong focus market for Qualcomm and we are positive on growth. Qualcomm has the advantage of supporting both flavours of 3G technologies. CDMA2000 will eventually evolve to EV-DO, and GSM will evolve to WCDMA/HSPA. Qualcomm will have a key role to make both the technologies succeed in India and we are committed to supporting operators on whichever 3G path they choose.
Q.3 Qualcomm’s BREW platform for VAS and high-end data services has been in news off-late. Please provide more insight on how the much talked about platform is performing in terms of subscriber base, revenues earned, the kind of applications it can offer and how operators stand to gain out of the platform?
Ans: The BREW solution enhances the wireless experience for consumers, allowing them access to such services as 3D games, ringtones, productivity tools, social networking services and more while creating new revenue streams for the mobile marketplace and delivering new ways to drive an increase in revenues per user.
Since launching in 2001, BREW has been commercially deployed by more than 60 operators in more than 25 countries around the world. The many publishers and developers who have created thousands of unique BREW applications and services have earned more than $2B from the sale of BREW applications and services globally.
In India, Tata Teleservices achieved a significant milestone for their value-added services (VAS) business by reaching more than 100 million BREW application downloads since launch in March 2005. Subscribers enjoy rich data services such as browsing, gaming, social networking, m-commerce, video streaming and news in local languages on a range of affordable devices. BREW applications are also offered by other leading operators in the country, including Reliance and Virgin Mobile.
Q. 4BSNL and MTNL have launched their 3G services but have received lukewarm response. Do you feel the scenario will change after entry of private players?
Ans: Competition always provides momentum to the growth of a market; we can expect this to happen as well with 3G, with the entry of private players.
Q.5 Qualcomm has also come with a new unique initiative in the form of Qualcomm Ventures which should come in handy for small time start-ups on the lookout for funds. What kind of companies are you targeting at while investing and how much fund or investment have you earmarked for the subsidiary?
Ans: Qualcomm established its venture investment activities in November 2000 to make strategic investments in startup companies around the world, with the primary objective of supporting adoption of 3G technologies and driving usage of wireless data services. Qualcomm Ventures’ aim is to support Qualcomm’s mission of enabling and fostering 3G (WCDMA) and wireless Internet markets through strategic investments in privately owned startup ventures. These strategic investments include companies focusing on wireless communication technologies and products serving consumer, enterprise and vertical markets worldwide.
Qualcomm Ventures looks for talented entrepreneurs and experienced management teams with vision and passion, who have developed technology that can add value to or complement existing Qualcomm business divisions, products and technologies.
Strategic Value Criteria
• A strong fit with Qualcomm'''s products and initiatives
• The potential to significantly affect the wireless value chain
• A significant and sustainable competitive advantage
• Potential liquidity and financial returns - Comparable to VC investors
• Investment stage - Expansion, typically the second round of financing
• Investment size - Between $500,000 and $10M, based on the opportunity
• Ownership - Typically investing in privately held entities
• Syndication - A strong investor group and board; typically QCV co-invests with financial VCs
To date, Qualcomm Ventures has made more than 50 strategic investments and maintains an active portfolio of more than 25 companies spread across US, Europe and Asia.
Qualcomm Ventures made its first India investment in 2007 and has set up a full-fledged presence in India in early 2008, led by Karthee Madasamy. Its current portfolio in India includes Kirusa in the mobile value added services space and Tessolve in the semiconductor space.