I didn't realize, until I visited the duty-free electronics store at New Delhi's airport, that the under-$100 smart phone had already arrived -- from Samsung, even.
Now, of course, it's not just the cost of the phone but more the cost of the access that's the issue in deployment to the next 3 billion internet users. And I heard much grumbling about telco/government corruption in India.
Still, I was amazed to find choice at the low-end.
The Samsung Champ New Duos, pictured below, is dual-SIM and has an FM radio and simple Samsung apps. It costs an incredible $59, unlocked and unsubsidized.
The Samsung Galaxy Y is an entry-level Android smartphone with Gingerbread. It costs $105.
The Samsung Galaxy Music Duos has Android 4, dual SIMs, and wi-fi hotspot for $147.
The screens are small -- all about 3" -- and not great quality. But nevermind. They connect their users to the net and the world.
The Indian government has all but given up on its ill-run, ill-fated $35 tablet project. But phones are getting there.
An Indian census report while I was in Delhi this week said that about 64% of all Indians -- including slum-dwellers -- have mobile phones.
As those phones get smarter and more connected to the world through more means (including voice) there'll be huge change in the developing world, including media there. My big lesson from a few days in Delhi is that India has the opportunity to leapfrog the web-based world in mobile.
Link to Galaxy Y: http://www.flipkart.com/samsung-galaxy-y-s5360/p/itmd2pz2rpcg5smz?pid=MOBD54PGFZBWWKUH&ref=2f513346-5d35-47ce-a2f0-22124c6b11b3
Link to tablet report: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/fmEi8gsOSFgOzSTFfLsw6J/Govt-almost-gives-up-on-Aakash-says-no-point-in-hardware-ob.html
Link to census report: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/jMYppv9iGGknRWep7H0yrI/Urban-slum-dwellers-own-assets-permanent-houses-Census-201.html