15 technologies that impacted Indians in 2014

by | Jan 27, 2015

(And the tech to look out for in 2015)

Studies show that Indians spend a lot of money on technology, embracing the latest in tech. Not surprisingly, because the youth love tech and half the country’s population is below the age of 25 years. The country’s per capita income has been rising steadily with an improving economy, resulting in more disposable income. And with networks penetrating the deepest pockets of the country, more people have access to technology. The subscription cost for mobile data plans has also remained steady. So a combination of these factors has made tech all-pervasive.

On the business front, cloud computing and its various flavours (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS etc) has significantly reduced the cost of IT. Many a business has benefitted by renting applications and computing infrastructure. This has also solved other challenges such as the shortage of skilled IT personnel to run in-house data centers and infrastructure capacity utilization.

Here’s a look at the technology that impacted us Indians in the year gone by, and what you can expect in 2015.

  1. WhatsApp and the rise of apps

WhatsApp was the killer app of 2014 and impacted many Indians’ lives. It is now common to see parents discussing homework assignments and school projects on WhatsApp. In the office, colleagues discuss work in their own spaces on WhatsApp. The year also saw more people using apps to book cabs from taxi aggregators. And society became more receptive to the unconventional —   dating apps(Tinder and Zoosk); buying groceries online; checking news on apps before consulting the morning paper. Indeed, technology can change habits.

What to expect: The majority of Internet users in India access the net through mobile phones and not PCs. And the common man has now acknowledged the convenience offered by apps.Consumers will seek and use information-based apps and apps related to public and government services.For instance, farmers will seek weather forecasts. Commuters and travellers want information on bus, train and airline schedules.  Even information on rickshaw sharing or carpooling will be sought. Travel and hotel reservations will increasingly be done through mobile apps. As the cost of sensors reduces, these will be incorporated into personal devices and communicate through healthcare apps. The state governments will also launch apps directed at citizens.

  1. Space & Defence technology

On 24th September 2014, India demonstrated its space prowess once again. ISRO‘s Mars orbiter reached the red planet and successfully started orbiting it. That was a milestone for India as it became the only country to get it right in the first attempt. And on December 18, ISRO launched its heaviest rocket, the GSLV Mark III. The 630 tonne rocket was a proof of concept and a test vehicle that did not carry any payload. But it paves the way for a manned mission sometime in the near future. These two feats demonstrate India’s space technology strengths.

India is making rapid progress in the defence sector too. It built its own light combat aircraft (Tejas) and helicopter. It bought an aircraft carrier from Russia, which is currently being retro-fitted with weaponry. It will replace its aging squadrons of MIG fighters with hi-tech fighter jets from Rafale (France) or Sukhoi (Russia). In future, these aircraft will probably be built in the country. And India has made great progress with missile technology (Brahmos).

What to expect: With indigenous development of cryogenic rockets, we think ISRO will pursue a manned mission at the end of 2015 or sometime in 2016. It would be an orbital flight. Beyond that, ISRO will attempt another moon mission (Chandrayaan-2) in 2016 or 2017, perhaps build a space station, and then attempt a manned mission to planet Mars.

Now that the government has raised the level of FDI in the defence sector, expect to see more indigenised solutions. India will also make great advancements in missile technology, increasing the range of its rockets, leading to its own nuclear tipped ICBM (Inter-continental Ballistic Missile).

  1. E-commerce and online sales

Multi-million dollar valuations for e-commerce companies; venture capitalists flocking to invest millions of dollars in these companies. That’s how we could best remember the business of e-commerce in India during 2014. Some highlights: Softbank committed an investment of $10 billion in India and invested in Snapdeal, Housing.com and OLA cabs. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos visited India and committed an investment of $2billion. Rival Flipkart.com responded by raising a third round of funding taking the total to $1.9 billion. With that, Flipkart’s market valuation reached $7 billion by the end of the year.

In 2014, e-commerce sales through mobile phones picked up drastically. Flipkart and Snapdeal note an increase in the number of users shopping through their respective apps. At the beginning of 2014, Flipkart got 10 percent of its business from mobile apps and for Snapdeal it was 18 percent. By December 2014, the figures jumped to 55 percent (Flipkart) and 60 percent (Snapdeal).

What to expect: The e-commerce bubble is going to swell to massive proportions once the government permits international companies to sell products online in India. Look out for the entry of giants like Amazon.com and Alibaba.com. And the e-commerce companies will make massive investments in India. Amazon and Flipkart will invest nearly Rs 2,300 crore. Some major acquisitions and mergers may occur. Since most Indians access the Internet on their mobile phones, expect to see more apps and shopping done through phones.  The introduction of 4G services and cheaper 3G phones will boost mobile internet and shopping through mobile phones.

  1. Wearables and fitness trackers

Wearables such as Google Glass, Jawbone, Fitbit, Pebble and Nike Fuel Band have been available for some time now. The launch of the Apple Watch (Time magazine’s gadget of the year) made wearables a fashion statement. However, users are waiting for a killer application. People are using wearables particularly for security, information and healthcare. Personal fitness/wellness bands track activity, heart rate and sleep patterns. These become more useful when linked to services – for instance GoQii offers a personal fitness coach who receives data from a user’sGoQii fitness band and then advises the user on diet and exercise. The other application is productivity and information-based services such as Google Now. Security with tracking technology (particularly for women and children) is also attracting users to wearables, and there is a product for this called Northstar.

Forrester Research predicts 2015 to be the year of wearables. With the emergence of more useful apps linked to services, you can expect wearables to take off in 2015. Expect to see wearable technology and sensors embedded on clothing, shoes and personal accessories (like belts and bags). Google’s Android Wear will also boost the use of wearables since most smart phones in India are based on the Android mobile OS. Other industries such as aviation, hospitality, marketing and retail are also developing apps for wearable devices. For instance, wearable devices will enable air travellers to quickly move through check-in, security and boarding gates at airports. Guests staying at a hotel will use a wearable device to open their room doors and to access facilities (such as the gym and spa) at the hotel. The app will also be integrated with billing.

  1. Drones

If you attended a college fest last year, especially at an engineering college, you would have seen a contraption with four or more rotors, hovering about. They usually have payloads like cameras and take to the air to give us a bird’s eye view of the action below. We also heard about ambitious plans such as drones being used by Amazon.com to make deliveries. Drones can surely beat traffic jams on the ground below and get to a destination sooner. But no one has figured out a commercial model for these yet. Also, the technology has to evolve further so that commercial drones can stay in the air longer. With more sensitive cameras, drones should also be able to fly higher.

There are five companies that are currently manufacturing drones in India. About 900 companies manufacture these in China, and 200 drone companies exist in the US. While drones were the top gift in the recent holiday season, they have yet to catch on here. The defence sector and reserve police force are conducting trials; the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is building drone composites and electronics. Some companies import drones from China and then customize these here by adding components. The business model for drones will be built on services.

  1. 3D Printing

Another immensely useful technology emerged last year – 3D printing. The applications range from manufacturing to healthcare.  For instance, body parts like knee caps and hip bones can be printed and made available anywhere, on demand. Astronauts need not carry spare parts to the international space station. They just need a soft copy of the blueprints. From these, they can print out the parts whenever required. This lightens payloads on space craft and saves fuel. The defence sector is also using 3D printers to manufacture guns and related components.

  1. Streaming services

Music and video streaming services are very popular in the US and other countries. For instance, Amazon.com offers music and video (Amazon Instant Video) through its Prime services. And NetFlix killed the DVD rental industry. In India, Gaana.com is a music streaming service that is gaining traction. But poor connectivity speeds are a damper. And the launch of Apple iTunes here saw many iPhone and iPad users downloading songs, podcasts and movies.

With the emergence of 4G networks and the increased availability of digital content in 2015, streaming services are sure to take off. But service providers will need to get the subscription pricing right. Amazon India is already preparing to launch music and video streaming services here, through its Prime subscription service.

  1. Hybrid clouds

Cloud computing (and its various flavours) gained increased adoption in 2014, and many SMBs (small and medium businesses) took to the cloud and enjoyed huge cost savings on IT infrastructure. But with concerns about privacy and security of data, enterprises preferred to keep their cloud infrastructure near at hand or behind their corporate firewalls. Non-core applications like e-mail were moved to public clouds. So Hybid cloud, a combination of public and private, became the preferred cloud model. This trend will continue in 2015.


  1. Demand for battery power

Big screen phones with multi-core processors are hungry for power. On average, a smart phone offers 8 hours of battery life (by today’s standards, 10 hours is impressive). The demand for power and charging points opened up a market for portable auxiliary power, by way of Power Banks. Companies like Portronics were pioneers and now there are so many options. If you want some lasting juice for your phone or tablet, don’t settle for a power bank that offers less than 5,200 mAh (milliampere hour is the unit of measure for battery power). And if you use multiple devices on the go, then 10,000 mAh is recommended.

In 2015, you will see more phones with power ratings in excess of 3,000 mAh. Wireless charging will also become common. All day battery life will become the norm.

  1. SLRs and SLMs go mainstream, front-facing phone cameras improve

Significant progress was achieved in camera phones last year. Thirteen megapixel cameras became the standard for phones. Selfies became a trend resulting in demand for better front-facing cameras (now at 5 megapixels). And the point and shoot cameras became extinct species. You rarely see one of these now.

The price of SLR cameras sunk below Rs 50,000 with some camera manufacturers offering two lenses. These are cameras with APS-C sensors (not full frame sensors). And the amateur went pro.

New formats like SLM (Single Lens Mirrorless) and action cameras (sports) also arrived in 2014.

We think 2015 will be the year of the SLM camera, which offers the best of both world’s – professional features in a compact package, with interchangeable lenses. And they do not cost a bomb.

  1. Curved screen TVs

Curved screen, OLED, UHD (ultra-high definition) and 4K TVs were introduced at the end of 2013. Samsung, LG and Sony were the first to launch their curved screen TVs in the Indian market. Smart TVs with internet connectivity and gesture-based controls also arrived. With six-figure price tags, these premium TVs are positioned at a niche segment.

In 2015, you will see more curvature in smart phones, tablets and TVs. Look out for Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge, a phablet with the screen curving on one side.

  1. Internet of Things

As more devices started communicating over wireless networks, it was only a matter of time before we saw the interconnection of all devices – to form the Internet of Things (IoT). Cameras and printers now have built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth is increasingly common in smaller devices. With a layer of intelligence embedded in these connected devices, we see them communicating with each other, without human intervention. There are scary thoughts about what could happen if things go out of hand. Hackers taking over your refrigerator and shutting it down? Rise of the machines (Terminator movies)? But the applications are immensely useful.

Expect to see IoT improving our lives in 2015. IoT technology is already present in wearables and the healthcare sector will benefit. IoT will also be used in Smart Cities. Samsung is working with a couple of IoT start-ups in India and you will see the results of this in Samsung products this year. Apple has also announced HomeKit and HealthKit. The former is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home. The latter is a tool for developers that allows health and fitness apps to work together.

  1. Smart Cities

India is in the midst of massive urbanization with increased migration from smaller towns and villages to the metros. So the Smart Cities initiative was well timed. The Narendra Modi government committed an investment of Rs 7060 core towards the development of 100 smart cities in 2014-15. This investment goes towards infrastructure modernization of existing cities as well as the development of new cities. Smart Cities will use technology to implement better water, energy and waste management; to improve the flow of transport; for disaster management and to reduce crime. Technology companies such as Cisco, IBM and others saw this as a big opportunity, and partnered with developers like the Lodha Group on various projects.

  1. Social Media

Social Media proved to be a significant communication channel in politics during the general elections in 2014. The BJP in particular used social media during their campaigns, and won over the hearts and minds of the (young) voter. According to Twitter India, there were a total of 56 million election-related tweets. Almost all politicians now use Twitter and PM Narendra Modi leads with 8.2 million followers. The BJP continues to use social media to spread positive messages about initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ – and to keep in close contact with citizens.

The number of Indians using social media has been increasing: there are 65 million Facebook users and 16 million Twitter users in India, with a majority of them in the 4 metros.

  1. Microsoft has a an Indian-born CEO; releases great products

IT giant Microsoft announced its third CEO and this time it picked a person who was born outside the United States. Satya Nadella was elevated to the CEO post on Feb 4, 2014. He immediately got to work and made a lot of changes.

Nadella successfully transitioned Microsoft from a devices and services company to a platform and productivity company. Among the first products that Nadella announced was Office for iPad. Its Surface Pro 3 tablet sales doubled compared to a year ago. Microsoft’s Digital Assistant Cortana got good reviews. Windows Phone 8.1 put Microsoft back in the smart phone race. The Nokia brand was edged out and replaced by Lumia; many employees lost their jobs due to this merger. The Microsoft Lumia 830 showed the competition what Microsoft can do with smart phones, but the shortage of apps on Microsoft’s app store continues to be a damper. Microsoft also introduced Sway, its graphics rich, easy-to-use and affordable publishing environment.

Look out for Windows 10, a new browser called Spartan, new versions of the Surface Pro tablet, a wrist assistant called Microsoft Band, and other great innovations from Microsoft in 2015.

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Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He founded Digital Creed in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 29 years of journalism experience (since 1994). Brian is the former Editor of CHIP India, InformationWeek India and CISO Mag. He has served India's leading newspaper groups: The Times of India and The Indian Express. Presently, he serves the Information Security Media Group, as Sr. Director, Editorial. You'll find his most current work on CIO Inc. During his career he wrote (and continues to write) 5000+ technology articles. He conducted more than 450 industry interviews. Brian writes on aviation, drones, cybersecurity, tech startups, cloud, data center, AI/ML/Gen AI, IoT, Blockchain etc. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. He recently achieved a Certificate in Cybersecurity (CC) from the international certification body ISC2. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn. Email Brian at: [email protected]
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