For Chinese entrepreneurs, India becomes the “incredible” market with huge potential to explore as Chinese mobile market growth remains stagnant. While for Indian companies, China, compared with the US, seems to be a more inspiring market for Indian companies with more readily applicable business models and lessons.
With interaction intensified between the two markets, how are internet giants in India dealing with the changes brought about by their more well-heeled Chinese competitors? What are the challenges and opportunities emerging in the interaction process? To find out the answers to these questions, China Tech Insights interviewed Satyan Gajwani, Vice Chairman of Times Internet at the Chindia TMT Dialogue Conference.
Times Internet hosts some of the largest websites in India including The Times of India and The Economic Times, and runs more than 20 different digital properties, ranging between Content, Video, Music, News, to Mobile-VAS, e-commerce and advertising solutions. Across all businesses, they reach about 200 million monthly users.
In this interview, Satyan Gajwani shares with us his insights on new content business models as well as a general view of Sino-Indo tech business interactions, and challenges in the Indian market.
Q: I read a lot about the interaction between the markets of India and China in Chinese media. It’ll be good to hear your side of the current status of that relationship. For starters, have you been watching the Chinese market as an Indian entrepreneur?
Q: What are your favorite Chinese products or apps?
So the challenge for UC will be how to become a platform, and how to be sort of a thought leader in news. Because news is a funny business where people associate. UC has a wide population of users, but if you ask the average Indian reader what news he reads, UC won’t be the first to come to mind. So the challenge is how to be big and visible. But they’ve done a phenomenal job with their growth, starting from a browser.
Q: Besides Chinese companies, US giants also have their presence in India. How are Chinese and US rivals different in the Indian market?
But the other thing is that when Chinese companies come to India, they are much more open-minded to changing for the Indian market, adapting their products and localizing. They do that more than American companies I think. They tend to be a lot more nimble as well. They tend to be faster to adapt and to change, whereas global companies in India are usually what we call “brag to boss”. They get to tell the boss “I’ve launched in India”. But it’s not the real focus.
In general India is ten years behind China today. E-commerce is essentially new for us, only three years old. So it’s still pretty early for India right now. For these businesses I think there are three issues. One is logistics. The infrastructure for deliveries in India is not actually that easy. We were the first in investing in one of India’s largest logistics companies Delhivery.
Things will all get better, but the biggest challenge people tend to neglect is that the average income of an Indian is fifteen percent of the average Chinese. So if you have six times less money than the other, consumption power is much lower. So as people accumulate more wealth, their ability and readiness to spend will increase. But we’re still pretty early in that cycle.
The biggest e-commerce company in India is doing three to five billion dollars in sales, whereas you know, on Double 11, Alibaba will generate more revenue than the entire Indian industry does in one day. So there is still time for the market to develop and it really relates to overall consumer strength, which is the biggest obstacle for Indian development.
Lastly, I think trust is a big question mark. When you go to a store and you take a product, you can feel it, while e-commerce is a habit that people become accustomed to over time. If you trust it, then you will pay. You know today the majority of people are doing what’s called cash-on-delivery in e-commerce. They don’t pay online, because they don’t trust it. Trust is a large long term hurdle to cross. It will take time for us to get there in India.