Stepping Into The IoT Based Future

by Wrik Sen    Aug 16, 2016

Kuldeep Malik

Over the years, India has become an important market for global technology companies who see an immense potential to invest in its vibrant economy. Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company Mediatek has been into state-of-the-art SOC (systems-on-chip) development for mobile devices, wireless networking, HDTV, DVD, and even Blue-Ray, since 1997, is also leading in the IoT space.

In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Kuldeep Malik, Country Head – Corporate Sales International, who leads MediaTek India, explains how the leading chipset provider is getting ahead of the curve in developing for IoT and its roadmap for the India market.

 

How is MediaTek looking at the IOT space? Are you planning anything specific for this segment?

MediaTek has been actively into mobile phones, tablets and other divisions. IOT Business Unit is something new that we started last year. We have multiple Business Units in our organization and having a dedicated team for IOT shows that we are very serious.  

It’s not that these are the first products in the IoT product line. Earlier we had 7681 and the older generations, but we have also launched new products; MT7687 and MT7697. The idea is that IoT is a big area and everyone talks about it, so we too think that it’s the right time to pitch in. By bringing these two new products concentrated on Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi, we are approaching at least two segments that can be easily covered right from wearables to home gateway. These products are targeted towards smart electronics and consumer electronics segments. We have many more in the pipeline, and they are not centric to few segments, rather cover across segments because IoT is huge in itself.

In what particular ways do you see the IoT space disrupt the technology space? 

According to our approach, ‘disrupting’ may still not be the right term to use, because it may not be the same way as mobile phones have been. Even though, we have been into turnkey solutions, there is no magical formula for ‘turnkey solution’ for the IoT space because every solution has a different kind of requirement. For example, the kind of vehicle tracker being used on a person in the wearable category; China has heavily adopted the wearable tracker because there are a lot of senior citizens and kids, who need to be tracked. A similar platform is being used, but is customized to a different segment. So, it is definitely going to take some time, as there are no ‘magical pills’ which can which can disrupt the entire space. 

Also, if you see the market, like the Indian market, ‘lower hanging fruits’ where we see are the kinds of investment and the seriousness that India has made under ‘Digital India’. PM Modi has already fixed up USD 4.5 billion to be invested. Japan has already assured the Mumbai Delhi corridor MIDC an investment of USD 4.5 billion, and they are going to create this whole corridor as a smart corridor i.e. from the toll to entry to smart sensing, traffic and lighting, everything will come under it. If the government is seriously pumping this kind of investment, and has opened FDI for the segment, this is going to show big numbers in the coming times.

What are the current and future plans for MediaTek’s future? 

We have not set targets yet as we are just making an entry at this point, but there are some floating numbers.  People talk about 20-30 million in quantities. What I believe is that, India should at least have 3 billion devices connected via IOT, by 2020. At least 10-12 per cent of the global market should easily be covered within the Indian market. 

With the kind of push directed towards Smart Cities concept, and with the Government finalizing 100 cities, at least some city from them can become a model to follow. If a Smart City is being created in Ghaziabad or Noida, it can be done in Kochi or other cities perhaps. At least 40-50 per cent of lessons learnt in the process can easily be replicated so as to make the process faster. If one city takes 5 years, then next one may take 3 years or lesser.

What are the challenges in the Indian industry and how is MediaTek planning to overcome them? 

The biggest challenge is that IoT caters to two segments: B2C and B2B. In the B2C segment, the consumer is unable to get the answer to questions ‘Why should I adopt this device’, or ‘Why can’t I sleep without having some product on my hand?’. In metro cities, the ones who are concerned about their health are the ones opting for it, and though the numbers are there, they are not up to that level where it can be a big success. So the biggest challenge is, how to answer the consumers, basic need-based questions.

In the B2B segment, there is a ‘volume game’ at play. We think that in the whole volume game, any new product that comes in the market comes with a cost, but it gradually adjusts by the volumes because of economies of scale, and you notice the costs going down. So, it’s just about ‘breaking the barrier’. 

We are seeing a lot of people here who have adopted the wearable devices, but it is only centric to e-commerce and internet savvy consumers, but very less people are adopting it through offline channels, hence lesser volumes. Also, people are using it mainly in metro cities, and there is the ‘affordability’ factor as it depends on who can spare the money to get it. It’s the mass volumes which will drive the ball game. So, something like the PDS (Public Distribution System) scheme is a right fit for IoT. There will be a buyer censor device located at a shop and there is the 900 million strong database, which now has 1 billion in Aadhar card holders backed up by a government cloud system. Anyone who comes to the PDS shop will only get the rashan once he is certified to get it according to the database.

These kinds of products will start pulling IoT up, and MediaTek is just trying to catch up by having some product lines into these markets. We are not a ‘direct solution provider’ but a ‘platform provider’, but somebody has to adapt that platform, and make the whole product around it and put it in the market.