Nimbuzz, a Netherlands-based but India-focused messaging app, was acquired by New Call Telecom of the UK this week in a deal that valued the company at about $250m.
That is a tiny sum compared with the $22bn Facebook paid this year for WhatsApp, with its 465m users worldwide. Nimbuzz has 200m registered users, mostly in India, the Middle East and north Africa, and its success in the vast Indian market provides important lessons for tech companies in Asia’s third largest economy.
Since the early days of its software industry in the 1980s, nearly all of India’s large IT companies have earned their crust selling software to companies in America, who have tended to be more open to outsourcing than competitors in Europe and Asia.
But for how much longer? Not that long in the case of Tata Consultancy Services at least, the country’s largest IT group by sales, which soon looks set to earn more than half of its revenues outside the US for the first time, according to chief executive Natarajan Chandrasekaran.
Investors gave new Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka a show of confidence on Monday, as shares in the IT outsourcer closed up nearly 4 per cent. Rupee weakness was part of the reason — software exporters prosper as India’s currency drops — but a large chunk seems to stem from optimism about Mr Sikka himself.
Is that optimism justified?
beyondbrics took a trip to Bangalore to meet him last week, as reported here last Friday. Sikka then met with various Indian journalists the following day, prompting various stories over the weekend. The combination of these appears to have soothed investor worries.
It is like the return of a prodigal son. Infosys, the Indian IT group, hived off its “products, platforms and solutions” business this year into a wholly-owned but independent subsidiary known as EdgeVerve.
The unit was first formed two and a half years ago as part of the group’s efforts to move into higher value businesses. But that strategy – dubbed “Infosys 3.0″ – has taken a back seat in the past year as the focus shifted back to the traditional IT services that are bread and butter for Infosys. Now, as the parent group’s financial results improve and a new group chief executive arrives next month, this young but fast-growing subsidiary is poised to come back into the spotlight.
The poor northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is home to some 200m people, makes up 7 per cent of the country’s land mass and has 80 out of 543 parliamentary seats in India.
That means this largely rural region is crucial as we head towards a general election. Analysts from Citi travelled to UP to gauge the mood.
In the past month, shares in Infosys have risen 21.1 per cent and Tata Consultancy Services has rallied 22.7 per cent. Meanwhile, shares in Wipro, India’s third largest IT company, have gained a relatively meagre 9.8 per cent.
The company’s results, out on Friday, followed positive figures from India’s other two IT giants. And comments from management suggest Wipro is ready to play catch-up.
What next? Prayers and confessions sent by SMS? Or sacrifices made as email attachments? The Almighty, it seems, is accepting donations by mobile banking.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an institution set up by the country’s central bank to standardise retail payments, has included ten religious institutions in its system for mobile money transfers.
After the Bernanke boost, it’s Infosys’s turn. India’s benchmark Nifty index opened up 1.1 per cent at 6,000.50 on Friday, having gained 2 per cent in the previous session on rumblings from the Federal Reserve, as Infosys set the earnings season off to a good start.
Shares in Infosys soared 11.9 per cent to Rs2,833 by 9.30am in Mumbai, after the Indian IT bellwether reported quarterly figures that marginally beat expectations.
India has overtaken Japan to become the world’s third largest market for smartphones, joining China and the US on the podium.
In some ways, it’s unsurprising. With a population of over a billion people India is bound eventually to be among the largest markets for pretty much anything. What is interesting is how Indians are using their phones – and the local handset makers that are seeing lightning fast growth.
By Manjeet Kripalani of Gateway House
In his return to the chief’s chair to revive the premier Indian information technology giant Infosys Technologies which he co-founded, N Narayanamurthy is following a well-worked tradition in the corporate world. This return, however, has a new twist: Murthy will be accompanied into the executive suite by his 30-year old computer scientist son, Rohan.
Shares in Infosys, the Indian IT group, bounced up 5.5 per cent on Monday morning, after the weekend announcement that Narayana Murthy would take back the reins as executive chairman of the board for five years.
But the news is hardly a positive reflection on Indian business culture. Internal age restrictions have been rejigged to allow for the return of the company’s 66-year-old co-founder who is bringing his son in as an executive assistant. If Infosys, a group that prides itself on its professional management methods, behaves like this, then so will other Indian companies.
As India’s IT sector looks to new markets for growth, the country’s fourth largest IT company, Wipro, has announced that it will pay $30m for a minority stake in the privately held Opera Solutions, a US organisation that works in predictive and prescriptive data analytics.
That translates into helping companies use data to manage costs, risks and other areas of the business. It’s a high-value element of the IT sector that many Indian companies are trying to expand into as growth in other services has tailed off.
A quarter of the world’s 161m blind and severely visually impaired people live in India, according to Sightsavers, the international charity.
Combine that with the fact that India is buzzing with technology and entrepreneurship, and it makes sense that the world’s first Braille smartphone is being developed in the country.
Indian makers of tablet computers are elbowing their way into the domestic market, which is expected to expand rapidly in the next few years.
Although Samsung and Apple feature strongly in the Indian tablet market, figures from the International Data Corporation, an information technology research company, show India’s two leading domestic manufacturers have grabbed a market share of more than 20 per cent.
As India’s results season rolls on, Friday brings news from Wipro, which recently split its operations between information technology and non-IT businesses.
The results are generally positive – though India’s third largest IT company has disappointed markets with its forecasts for the current quarter.