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Jan 28, 2012 10:30 AM IST | Source:

Why CDMA phones aren't dominating in India?

Last week we jotted down 5 best CDMA handsets, which wasn't easy, owing to the dearth of CDMA phones in India.

Last week we jotted down 5 best CDMA handsets, which wasn't easy, owing to the dearth of CDMA phones in India. Now, we don’t mean there are just a handful of phones, but definitely one can’t find an array of devices to choose from, while looking for a smartphone. There are umpteen choices in the low end, entry level devices, but try moving up the tech ladder for a higher-end device and that’s where you will suddenly hit a roadblock. An overview of the mobile market, and seemingly, GSM, has a much larger share of the pie compared to CDMA in India. As of October 2011, India had a subscriber base of over 851 million subscribers. GSM enjoys a larger share of the market in India of about 80 percent, while CDMA is still lagging at about 20 percent. In fact, globally too, GSM is believed to be dominant across the world, except for America and a few other markets where CDMA is favored or enforced. It eventually raises a question whether we have lesser users opting for CDMA devices or is the constraint of CDMA network operators and better handsets obstructing the growth of this standard? Well, the answer is both as these aspects are interlinked and it's eventually a vicious circle. CDMA phones are believed to be focused on rural regions, where the purchasing power and users demands aren't high, but the price point definitely matters. Rahul Malhotra, Regional Head - Product Marketing, Mobile Devices, Motorola Mobility, states, “At the moment the CDMA device market in India is largely driven by entry level devices. Demand for handsets is often based on the services carriers are deploying and how they are marketing handset categories. Globally Motorola makes devices for all major network technologies, and in any given marker we offer handsets based upon customer needs and the requirements of our carrier partners.”Advait Vaidya, Product Manager, Research In Motion believes that the CDMA market is here to stay. He says, “The CDMA market in India is small but from a capability point of view has the most unadvertised/unrealized potential today. Tomorrow is about data & availability & the CDMA operators in India are very well positioned to cater to these requirements.  CDMA in India is here to stay and CDMA networks will keep drawing customers to its folds with remarkable ease & regularity.”Here are a few pointers that have obstructed the growth of the CDMA market in India:FlexibilityFlexibility is one of the main factors that has been affecting CDMA usability in India. When CDMA was introduced in India, it was mostly a single operator phone. For instance, Reliance had its small army of phones then. No one wants to get tied down to an operator, despite the fact that CDMA arguably offers faster speed than GSM. The standard was introduced in India in a very tied-up fashion, without too many operators who would make switching between carriers easier. This formed a very constrained image of the CDMA standard. Although newer methods and features have been introduced to change this notion, we don’t see it showing any change in the number of CDMA users.

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