Microsoft India’s chairman Bhaskar Pramanik, said the biggest transformation he’s seen in the company he joined three years ago is from a software maker to one that’s fighting to sell devices and services. In a world where the combination of social media, data analytics and wireless mobility is powered by the biggest backend the world has ever seen, the internet, winning mobile phone market share is absolutely essential to Microsoft India’s growth, Pramanik told in an interview. Edited excerpts:
What change have you seen in your time at Microsoft?
I joined Microsoft three years ago. What’s changed is the realisation that social, mobility, analytics are key and those are the killer apps powered by the cloud. SMAC is going to be left, right and centre in terms of our conception of how we are going to serve our customers. It has had impact on our values, our culture, our behaviours. It has impact on our sales and incentives and compensation schemes. It has had an impact in terms of the kinds of people we’re hiring. It is a complete transformation of the company, from being software (maker), versus trying to serve our customers by using devices and services as a strategy.
How is the devices plan working?
The phone very clearly is what I’m going to be focusing on because (in India) the mobile phone is going to be the way most people are going to get on the internet, so we very clearly have to win in that market. We started off very well. Nokia focused on the devices and we focused a lot on the applications and today there is no difference between the applications which I have and the applications on Android. There are certain applications only available on our phones.
We are going to use applications and services to make our devices much more rich. If you look at when we started in phones, which was two to two and half years back, we had only one device. At the peak in sometime October of last year, during the holiday season, we had seven phones available. I think range also makes a difference. What we’ve done also is an extensive retail chain … we’ve done a lot of work in putting the distribution channel in place.
Why isn’t the Surface tablet in India, even with corporate customers?
Microsoft sees Surface as a premium product. We are very clear that in India our focus is going to be with third-party devices and that’s what we’re putting all our energy behind it. That’s also something that we understand how to do very well, as with our whole PC strategy was based upon third-party.
In India we are waiting to see what would be the potential demand for our premium products. In the last study we did, it appears that there are about 20 million households in India whose average income is close to those in any of the developed markets. That could be the target. The challenge is what are they looking for? What are their expectations?