GPS Navigation in India: Interesting times ahead
As per the textbook theory of market maturity in any country, the expected stages are that of market development, rapid growth, saturation or maturity and the decline. Having had the good fortune to predict the evolution of GPS Navigation market in India, here is a retrospective of the various phases, from both the vendor’s and consumer perspective.
Firstly, the stage of market development from vendor’s perspective was 1999-2003, mostly spent in understanding the technology, identifying various components and selecting the partners who could supply the same. From the consumer’s perspective, this phase started much later from 2003-2006 during which initially there was denial that it would ever work in India, then pessimism when it worked but people thought the market would not exist and finally neutrality giving companies the benefit of doubt that ‘maybe’ it would indeed work someday! The net result was that vendors spent time and money waiting for the market to get ready.
Second phase of rapid market growth, interestingly, has not happened in India even until date. But from a vendor’s perspective the year 2007 and 2008 have seen a lot of competitive turbulence,a very small expansion of the market, bundles of contradictory claims from various service providers, which are activities expected during market growth only. From a consumer perspective the same years have already given him better pricing, more choice of product and an opportunity to give user feedback that help improve the product. The net result is that it is a consumer market already, but growth is yet to come!
The third stage of market saturation and maturity from a vendor’s perspective is expected to be from 2007-2009, comprising of focus on product differentiators, identification of raw iron components costing as well as efforts to control the technical customer support costs. From a consumer perspective this phase is expected between 2008-2010, consumers will benefit from more choices in the market, excellent customer service and value additions to the product which help in its daily usage. The net result is that both consumers and vendors begin to reap some of the benefits from the market.
The fourth stage of market evolution, decline, is still some distance away from the Indian market. In this phase vendors should expect that the product itselfwill become invisible, market reach will be critical, all will need to look at new markets within existing segments. From a consumer perspective it will become a commodity product, people with new toy syndrome would change devices periodically and price would be the only factor when taking decisions. The net result would be similar to what the mobile phone market is undergoing and volumes would be huge.
Companies need to watch for the above phases and evolve their business plans such that they emerge as leaders. The challenges are many; the customs duties on import of GPS devices are very high. There is enough market for all players and it is important to encourage competition as an engine of growth. Overall, I can safely sum up that while the past has been exciting and we have lived in ‘interesting times’, the future is going to be all the more interesting and exciting than anyone has ever imagined. Several new markets will be created and leaders will be made of existing companies or born out of new ones in this space. Let us look forward to a huge growth in the coming years so that we can sit back and smile when it actually does come our way.