Rapid adoption of mobile and tablet technology will play a major role in the way the entire digital learning experience is valued and consumed, believes S N Rai, Co-Founder & Director, LAVA International. In conversation with ENN, he says there is need for collaboration among content development companies, network providers and device manufacturers to build an ecosystem of mobile learning to propel the industry forward
What has been the genesis of Lava Communications?
Lava was born with a vision to empower people to do more and be more. Lava continues to do that at every touch point consistently – consumers, employees, commercial partners and shareholders. The entire value chain is working with ownership to become a global consumer from India. Over the last five years, Lava has invested in setting up a strong foundation in distribution, R&D, processes and people and continues to do so. On the back of this structure, we have been very successful with entry level phones. Our focus now is to acquire a larger pie of the mid segment and premium smartphones market in India.
What are the various fields you are venturing into in the education space and how?
Tablets offer immense potential, particularly in the field of education. The market for tablet PCs in the education sector is growing extremely well as a result of government initiatives to adopt e-learning in schools. We are collaborating with several state governments to provide tablets with customised educational content. Last year, Lava spearheaded the education initiative in Meghalaya, where eleven thousand tablets were delivered to students under the government’s Student Digital Learning Scheme. The tablet was customised with an inbuilt education app – Digital Library – that enables students to access the content. With our tablet offerings, we are committed to facilitate customised products to harness the potential of digital learning in India. Apart from this, we are tying up with several content providers as well as mobile app development companies in the education space to provide a complete solution to several educational institutions in higher education.
How do you plan to capitalise on the increasing demand of tablets in the enterprise space?
Lava is focussing aggressively on the enterprise space this year and is building up a dedicated sales and service team for our enterprise customers. In the education domain, we have tied up with several content development companies who provide content for senior secondary classes, engineering and medical preparation. This year, we will launch tablets on Windows platform apart from Android as the enterprise segment has shown affinity towards Windows-based devices due to better user interface.
How do you see the evolution of the tablet PC market in the education sector?
The market for tablet PCs in the education sector is growing as a result of government initiatives aimed at providing affordable tablets to students in schools and educational institutes. Many early adopter schools are using tablets to conduct electronic tests via tablets. This enables teachers to devote more time on teaching students without the hassle of correcting a number of test papers. As tablets are also coming up with pre-loaded reference material, audio and video books, they are being used as primary study material. Tablets also enable students to get additional information through the Internet which compliments their studies. With increasing penetration of 3G and introduction of 4G services in India, tablets will be in huge demand due to their portability, ease of use and ability to provide con nectivity, content consumption and entertainment on the go.
The government has the mandate of providing affordable tablets to students in educational institutes. How big is this opportunity for the private sector?
At present, the Indian higher education sector witnesses spends of more than `46,200 crore which is estimated to grow over `2,32,500 crore in 10 years. Strong government initiatives to push student enrollments in primary, higher education and distance learning will keep propelling market expansion. The rapid adoption of mobile and tablet technology is going to play a major role in the way the entire digital learning experience is valued and consumed. Not long ago, the government aided many college students to get a tablet at subsidised rates for quality education as part of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). Several state governments are providing affordable tablets to students at schools and educational institutions and the opportunity for the private sector is huge.
Which segment in the education sector can drive the market for tablet PC over the coming years?
The major thrust in the education sector will come from the K12 segment. There has been an increased adoption of tablets for e-learning by private schools and government for the students in secondary classes and could introduce this scheme for students studying in middle and lower standards as well. Schools will also start focussing on co-scholastic learning that includes imparting life skills like creativity, critical thinking etc. The life skills are very important to a child’s development and have been mandated in CBSE schools. Digital learning will play an important role in skill development as this involves a lot of multimedia content consumption. Tablets are best suited to serve these needs.
“Through partnerships, we are focussing on solutions specifically for sectors like education, healthcare and retail. The product portfolio will comprise the mix of affordable Wi-FI only and 3G calling tablets at different price points”
What are your future plans for expansion and which areas you would focus on?
There is a strong focus on the enterprise space for providing an end-to-end customised solution to their commercial needs. Through partnerships, we are focussing on solutions specifically for sectors like education, healthcare, retail, etc. The product portfolio will comprise the mix of affordable Wi-fi only and 3G calling tablets at different price points. Tablets in the `5000 to `7000 price bracket mostly offer Wi-fi only and there is a huge demand for such products in the education sector. On the other hand, enterprises prefer to equip their team with a portable device catering to computing and voice-cum-data connectiv
ity needs at an affordable price; thereby bringing products with 2G/3G capability into the picture.
What is the percentage revenue growth of your tablet business in the education sector for 2012- 13 and 2013-14? What are your expectations for 2014-15?
Overall in 2014-15, we are looking for over 100 per cent growth from 2013- 14 revenues and we will achieve this through a strong focus on the enterprise and education domain along with expansion of the retail distribution channel. Although majority of our revenues will come from consumer retail channel, we are looking at nearly 30-40 per cent contribution from the education and enterprise domain combined. This is keeping in view the increasing demand of tablets as a substitute to laptop PCs from organisations.