Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies
Reboot Systems: bridging digital divide – the green way
Srividya Raghavan,
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Reboot Systems: bridging digital
divide – the green way
Srividya Raghavan
The board members[1] of Reboot computers were deliberating on various challenges for the
company that aimed to bridge the ‘‘digital divide’’ in India by making refurbished used
computers accessible to all. Their motto was: ‘‘everyone deserves a computer’’. As the team
duly recognized, addressing a social issue such as a digital divide required cohesive
participation of several players such as device producers, software and content providers,
service providers, government agencies and policy makers. In their assessment of the
market, they surmised that Reboot computers could be a strong contributor for serving the
chronically deficient market.
Despite being a start-up faced with multiple challenges and the uncertainties of an emerging
market, Rahul Chowdhury, one of the co-founders, anticipated great growth opportunity in
Reboot computers with potential to reach INR 50-100 billion in a few years. The opportunities
were apparent and competition in the organised computer refurbishing market was
non-existent. While Subbarao, the CEO and another co-founder of Reboot, was focussed on
how the opportunity could be tapped by straddling multiple segments of the highly
heterogeneous emerging market, Anand Tater, who had originally founded Reboot as a
small enterprise, brought insights from the operational nitty-gritties of day to day activities.
What the Reboot Team needed was to build a strong strategic direction that could help them
address the social issue through sustainable means and at the same time enable the
business to develop a competitive advantage.
Some important issues being deliberated were: how did Reboot’s proposition of managing a
social problem through sustainable means add value across various stakeholders in the
market? How could sustainability be ensured from a business and social/environmental
perspective? In marketing their solutions to a heterogeneous market, how could multiple
segments be defined and targeted while keeping the brand’s value proposition and market
approach consistent? Would all segments be equally viable opportunities or were there
other, more compelling reasons for straddling multiple segments in an emerging market?
Most importantly, how much did these decisions hinge on the strategic direction and market
approach that the company chose to adopt?
Reboot: background
Started as a small business that resold used-computers in the unorganised secondary[2]
market, Reboot was striving to expand rapidly and organise the unorganised computer
refurbishing business. Reboot was conceived in 2009-2010 when Anand Tater and his
brother set out to explore how e-waste extraction could be a viable entrepreneurial
opportunity, but serendipitously found that used computers in working condition had a ready
market – if they were cleaned up and made reusable. Used computers sourced in the
secondary market[3] at really low rates (INR 2,000-2,500) were equipped with some new
CRT monitors and keyboards at a cost of INR 2,000-2,500 and sold at INR 6,000-6,500.
DOI 10.1108/EEMCS-06-2013-0077 VOL. 3 NO. 6 2013, pp. 1-45, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2045-0621 j EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES j PAGE 1
Srividya Raghavan is an
Associate Professor based
at Institute of Management
Technology (IMT),
Hyderabad, India.
Disclaimer. This case is written
solely for educational purposes
and is not intended to represent
successful or unsuccessful
managerial decision making.
The author/s may have
disguised names; financial and
other recognizable information
to protect confidentiality.
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Anand and his team at that time[4], had catered to customers of lower economic strata
(Exhibit 1 for definitions of socio-economic classifications) from urban areas[5] and some
remote parts of rural north India.
The need for more capital to ease operational bottlenecks brought Anand and his team in
contact with Rahul Chowdhury, a serial entrepreneur and Subbarao, a professional with
more than 20 years of experience in consumer goods and the telecoms industry. Rahul and
Subbarao recognised the potential of Reboot to be much bigger than it was in early 2012.
According to Subbarao:
A kernel of this idea had been in our minds over the last several years. All of us here from high end
corporate sectors have been users of computers and have been seized with rapid
changes/upgrades/new-technologies over the years. Computers in the early 2000s were an
option for a select few and especially lap tops for the rare few triggered an aspiration and utility
down the ranks and became the way of work [. . .] now evident in that every student (school or
college) or SME cannot do without one. [. . .] The opportunity was there and we met Anand in
mid-2012, who was then toying with the idea of providing cheap computers to people and
retrofitting small volumes of used computers to select customers {he was actually experimenting
with same under Reboot name (for under a year)} and felt that it was a larger idea than it was, as is.
Since then, Reboot had obtained substantial funding to help it expand and establish itself as
India’s largest national chain of reverse engineering/refurbished computer retailers.
The Reboot team recognised the need for a much broader vision and strategic direction to
help the enterprise harness the market potential and a multi-pronged operational approach
to straddle multiple segments. Subbarao explained:
When we discussed the same (idea) initially it was a no brainer that what was needed was scale,
else it was another second’s shop trade and restricted to a one point presence as possibly
another shop in the vast, unorganized Indian bazaars. We began talking scale and soon it was
evident that we needed to build the brand, build processes, ensure delivery, service, etc. That’s
when the genesis of brand Reboot started to emerge – and we are paving the larger footprint for
the same. Apropos a new brand, a new organisation was envisaged and kicked off [. . .]
The extended team at Reboot had envisioned the company as one that had the capacity to
address an important social need. In providing affordable computers, albeit refurbished, to
those who were unable to afford a new branded computer, they realised that Reboot was
providing the poorer sections of society an aspirational opportunity to own a computer and
become computer literate in an increasingly digital world. A vision to bridge the digital divide
by providing affordable computers thus emerged as a robust agenda for an enterprise
aspiring to be the first and largest organised computer refurbishing company in the Indian
market. Addressing a social issue such as digital divide through refurbished computers in
an emerging market that owed its deficiency to multiple market malaise such as lack of
accessibility, affordability, awareness and knowledge, was a stimulating challenge for the
entrepreneurial start-up. Added to this, the dearth of infrastructural resources and policy
support from government agencies made it mandatory to develop inimitable capabilities to
ensure sustainability of such a business.
Digital divide in India
India worries about the rapid strides being made in Information Technology (IT) that is fuelling the
gap between the country’s privileged urban population and its under-privileged rural populace
(Rao, 2005).
Digital divide has been defined in several ways – the distance between the information rich
and the information poor, the distance between the technology haves and the have-nots; the
distance between those who have access to technology and allied services and those who
do not; the gap in opportunities experienced by those with limited accessibility to
technology, especially the internet; and so on. Across various discourses on the digital
divide, it has been acknowledged that the digital divide is an artefact of the economic divide
among people across countries and within countries, across various geographic and
demographic profiles such as age, gender and education.
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That the benefits of the information and computer technology (ICT) revolution accrues to the
economically privileged across the world and increases the gap between the haves and the
have-nots has also been a well-documented debate[6]. Introducing the urban-rural divide in
adoption of ICT in the US market, Professor Douglas Blanks Hindman (2000) wrote:
Inequities in adoption and use of information technologies are serious matters in an information
based society. Those who are unable and unwilling to adopt and use information technology can
become isolated from increasingly predominant means of commerce and communication. In an
era of digital convergence nonuse and nonaccess to information technologies may lead to
perceived non-existence (Douglas Blanks Hindman, 2000).
However, it was also understood that it was technology that had to be harnessed to bridge
the divide such that all people within a society had access to ICT. As expressed by Professor
Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft[7]:
Digital inclusion is important in both enabling people to participate in economic activity as well as
facilitating their participation in the very process of democratic governance and education.
Digital inclusion has the potential to bring education to people in countries where educational
infrastructure is limited and the development of cadres of teachers is still constrained.
What ails the Indian market?
As per the census 2011, India was the second most populous country of the world with over
1.21 billion people – only slightly behind China with 1.3 billion people. By 2025, it was likely
to be the most populous, overtaking China with 1.6 billion people. 72.2 per cent of the
population lived in the 638,000 village and the remaining 27.8 per cent lived in more than
5,100 towns and cities[8]. The literacy rate in India was about 74 per cent, well below the
world average of 84 per cent. Compared with the American and European nations the
English speaking population[9] in India was a meager 12.5 per cent.
Since the opening of the Indian economy in the early 1990s, India had continued to have one
of the highest growth rates in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) at 6.9 GDP[10] (three
times the growth of economically developed nations) and was expected to grow at this pace
for at least another decade. This growth was expected to fuel the increase in consumption at
the individual and household level as discretionary income grew (Exhibit 2 for middle class
spending trends). As such, it was difficult to compare Indian incomes with those of the
economically developed nations, but application of the purchasing power parity (PPP)
multiplier, the GDP per capita of the USA was $48,000 compared to that of $3,750 for India.
Very few people in India could boast of an income higher than this. A relatively high Indian
salary of INR 300,000 ($6,700) attracted an income tax of 20 per cent and in terms of PPP
this amount translated to $33,000 which made it comparable to average income in richer
nations. The growth of the income class with discretionary income was reflected in the
increasing demand for cars and white goods. The number of cars on Indian roads had
increased to 20 million (with average size of family estimated as 5, 10 million households
owned a car)[11]. The growth in India was however led only by the ‘‘economically active’’
consumers with substantial discretionary income.
The flip side of the India growth story was linked to the size of population and population
growth rate. With a population of 1.2 billion, growing at the rate of 1.55 per cent, the impact
was on the GDP per capita growth, which was ostensibly lower than overall GDP growth.
Only the most affluent of the population had adopted ICT related products and this was
largely confined to the urban areas. Internet usage in India was the third highest, with
137,000,000 people accessing the internet (after China (538,000,000, 40 per cent
penetration) and the USA (245,203,319, 78.1 per cent penetration)) but with a penetration of
only 11.4 per cent of the population and contributed to 5 per cent of the world population
accessing the internet[12]. On this parameter of penetration level index (percentage of
population as an indicator of number of people accessing internet) even Pakistan and Africa
performed better than India at 15.3 and 15.6 per cent, respectively[13] (Exhibits 3-5 for
additional information on internet penetration).
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According to Maplecroft, an agency that measured and reported country risk indices on
several important aspects of global business, most people in India could not afford ICT. The
cost of an average new branded computer was upwards of INR 20,000 with additional costs
(about INR 20,000) for basic windows software and anti-virus (Rao, 2005). Lack of
affordability, education and geographies with poor technology access were highlighted as
primary bottlenecks leading to lack of digital inclusion in India. On the ‘‘digital inclusion’’
index, the Maplecroft report indicated that India lagged behind countries like Brazil, Russia
and China (BRIC)[14]. India was the only one among the BRIC nations that had been
indexed as ‘‘high risk’’ when compared to the others (BR-C) who had been indexed
‘‘moderate risk’’ (Exhibit 6). According to a Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney Report, the PC
penetration in India (2010) was only at 4 per cent compared with 20 per cent in China and far
lower than that of the USA (89 per cent) and Japan (98 per cent) (Exhibit 11). While India
accounted for 5.3 per cent of the Asia-Pacific computer hardware market value, China
accounted for 49.9 per cent of the Asia-Pacific market[15].
While digital divide and its consequences were being debated in some quarters, there were
other groups that suggested solutions. Manish Sharma, Vice-President (Asia Pacific),
Ncomputing[16],wrote in an insightful article that appeared in FinancialExpress (Sharma, 2012):
Over the years though India has earned its reputation of being an IT superpower, the irony of the
situation is that it has been able to do little to bridge the great digital divide between the IT haves
and have-nots. Hard to believe, but this remains the truth. Compare this – the overall teledensity
of India is whopping 65% whereas the computer penetration rate stands at around 20% and that
too, only in urban India. Amongst the major reasons for this dismal picture in India are lack of
affordable computing, continuous availability of power, service and support infrastructure, etc.
He went on to add that despite efforts of the state and central government to add IT
infrastructure, ‘‘[. . .] low-cost computing remains the key to increase the penetration of
computers in the country [. . .]’’ As he pointed out several forms of innovations to create
affordable computing, he added:
[. . .] we have very few IT projects that target basic human needs that can steer sustainable
development and narrow the digital divide. On one hand, we need to undertake applicable
projects that could directly benefit society as a whole.
This last observation on steering sustainable development while narrowing the digital divide
such that it benefits society as a whole, was particularly worrying in the context of the ICT
penetration in an over-populated country. While the vision of increasing information
technology access was pertinent for connecting to a world that was rapidly becoming
digital, it came with an interrelated burden – the burden of managing the e-waste left-over by
increasing consumption of electronic product in one of the world’s most populated countries.
E-waste in India
E-waste or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are the terms used to describe
old, end-of-life or discarded appliances that used electricity. According to a research paper
released by the Rajya Sabha[17] in 2011:
New electronic products have become an integral part of our daily lives providing us with more
comfort, security, easy and faster acquisition and exchange of information. But on the other hand,
it has also led to unrestrained resource consumption and an alarming waste generation. Both
developed countries and developing countries like India face the problem of e-waste
management. The rapid growth of technology, up-gradation of technical innovations and a
high rate of obsolescence in the electronics industry have led to one of the fastest growing waste
streams in the world which consists of end of life electrical and electronic equipment products.
According to the quoted government report, the rapid increase in consumption of electronic
goods was driven by the computer hardware segment. The use of e-governance
mechanisms and IT driven services were indicated as one of the most important drivers for
increasing consumption of computers. Owing to the rapid up-gradation of technology,
products such as laptops, desktop computers and mobile phones were not built for
longevity. The short life-span of these products was used as marketing tactics to make
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consumers keep pace with new technologies and adopt them quickly. Thus, the availability
of choices, changing pace of life, rapid urbanization, and increased purchasing capacity of
the middle class had all contributed to the growth of the electrical and consumer durable
industry (Sinha, 2008). In 2013, a fifth of revenues of the electronics industry came from the
sale of personal computers (PC). The total sale of computers towards the end of 2009 were
about 6.7 million with a small dip after 7.3 million sales in 2008 (with desktops growing at 27
per cent and laptops at 90 per cent year on year) units. The total PC sale was expected to
reach 7.3 million computers in 2009-2010.
With high growth rates in consumption of electronic products, the country also faced a high
obsolescence rate of 30 per cent per year with an estimated 2.2 million computers and nearly
14 million mobile handsets to be discarded by end of 2009. In India, the total e-waste
generation is approximately 3,80,000 tonnes per year. The main sources of e-waste were cited
as the government, public and private (industrial) sectors who contribute about 70 per cent.
The contribution of individual households was about 15 per cent and the rest by manufacturers
(Sinha, 2007). An IMRB survey in 2009 on assessing e-waste generation at source indicated
that desktops and servers accounted for 27 per cent of total e-waste generated in India.
E-waste comprises both useful and hazardous materials. Some of the harmless materials
included platinum, gold silver, copper and ferrous metals and the hazardous chemicals
include antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and so on. E-waste
handling was difficult due to the multiple components and the varied levels and types of
pollution that can hazard the environment (Exhibit 8 for toxic substances from e-waste). Not
only is the complexity due to the number of components but also due to the fact that these
materials are usually fused together and hard to extract and separate. Besides the difficulty
in extraction and separation, decomposing some of the inorganic compounds which are
hazardous is a tedious process (Exhibit 7 for amount of e-waste generated from computers).
E-waste in India was growing at three times the municipal waste. India had also been labelled
as the second largest e-waste generator in Asia based on Manufactures Association of
Information Technology (MAIT) (based on an estimate 33,000 million tonnes of e-waste in 2007
and yet another MAIT report that estimated 38,000million tonnes in 2008[18]). 90 per cent of
this e-waste found its way to the unorganised market[19] for recycling and disposal. Most of
this e-waste was handled by workers (unprotected by masks or gloves) in the unorganised
sector which had no appropriate processes for managing e-waste[20]. The e-waste was either
reused or sent for extraction where the usable materials were recycled and the rest were
relegated to land-fill. Reusing and Recycling were considered better ways of managing ewaste
as they increased the longevity of the products. This implied less e-waste over time
through impact on number of new e-products produced.
An article in Economic Times reporting a study by MAIT stated[21]:
India is also receiving large amounts of e-waste through trade and illegal imports. Although the
Hazardous Waste Rules of 1989 prohibit the import of e-waste without prior permission from the
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), import of such wastes is allowed for processing and
reuse of raw materials upon merit from the state pollution control boards. The import of second
hand computers less than 10 years old and donations of computers to non-profit organisations
are also permitted. Moreover, an estimated 50% to 80% of e-waste is exported from the USA and
dumped in countries like India, where environment protection regulations are not stringent. In
India, a major importer of second-hand electrical and electronic equipment, most e-waste
recycling occurs in the informal sector. While disposal of e-waste is a huge concern, it also
represents a potentially rich source of secondary raw materials.
The concern was due to the fact that most of the e-waste imported was dominantly used for
recycling and extracting useful material to be resold in the market rather than for safe
disposal of e-waste.
Reboot: addressing digital divide – the green way
The Reboot team depended on secondary data available from multiple sources for market
and industry information to draw insights during their deliberations.
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Market insights
According to company sources (Exhibit 9 for market share of various brands and used
computers in the market), the largest players in the computer and computer peripheral
market in India were the MNC brands that had 59 per cent of the market. Some Indian
brands catered to 18 per cent of the computer market, 8 per cent of the market belonged to
the peripherals. The secondary market for computers and peripherals was only about 10-15
per cent compared to a global average of 25-30 per cent. The potential drivers of the
computer and peripherals market were affordable computers that were accessible and
enjoyed a high quality of service (QOS), broadband penetration, notebooks and low-end
tablets which were increasingly becoming popular among consumers of digital products.
Government policies and programs such as the Aakash[22] educational tablets that
address the digital divide are aimed to favour the acceptance of digital devices. An industry
analysis by Datamonitor[23] indicated that supplier power was the strongest market force
with very few substitutes. There were few players and the rivalry was not intense (Exhibit 10
for industry analysis from Datamonitor).
According to the projections of the Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney report, PC penetration
in India was set to increase from 4 per cent in 2009 to 17 per cent in 2015 with the 58 million
computers projected to increase three to four times. The annual growth rate over the next five
years was about to increase by 25.6 per cent (Exhibit 11-14 for PC penetration and
ownership growth rates). Yet another report from Seedcorp group stated:
India presents a confusing picture from the perspective of ICT penetration. If we look at three
major indictors of analysis – the PC, the internet and the mobile phone – the variations are
surprising [. . .]. The penetration of PCs in India is abysmally low, about 26 per cent. Only
about 3 per cent of India’s population owns a computer as compared to China where
ownership figures are five times higher. Rising incomes in middle class India do not
translate into PC ownership because of lack of awareness of how the PC can be of real use in
an average home [. . .]. However, it is penetration in rural and peri-urban India that will drive
With respect to internet usage, the study found that 34 per cent of the total internet users in
2009 lived in the top 8 metros, 18 per cent lived in large towns, 12 per cent were from towns
with 5-10 lakh population and importantly 36 per cent were from towns with less than 5 lakh
population[25]. Contrasting this with the case of mobile phones, the report stated:
[. . .] about 19 million new subscribers were added each month during the first four months of
2010 alone. Total wireless subscriptions are projected to reach 766.0 million by end of 2010,
showing a year-on-year increase of 45.9%.
Clearly, the report states, ‘‘the desire to be connected and use technology is
widespread’’ (Exhibit 15 IAMAI data on connectivity, installed PCs and penetration). As
the IAMAI data indicates one of the dominant reasons for non-adoption of the internet is the
lack of access to computers – up to 39 per cent of rural population (Exhibit 17 data on
Addressing the issue of digital divide and pointing out importance of ICT adoption,
Subbarao wrote in his blog[26]:
We are but living in the information age. Information and access to information if not available to
all, is but the new hunger and malnutrition revisiting us in digital form. Apropos there is an urgent
need for government policy makers, scientists, technocrats, innovators, corporations, industrial
bodies, technology lobbyists/evangelists/champions and individuals to act constructively,
smartly and responsibly (CSR).
In India numerous questions keep haunting us every day:
B While internet in India has crossed the tipping point of 100 million users in 2011 [IAMAI
report (2012)], still only a modest 20 percent of urban Indians are connected. Worse only
three percent of rural Indians are connected – as only 38 million users in rural India have
accessed internet to date (of the total 833 million rural population).
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B Computers (PCs) penetration is under 10% (vs þ80% in North America or UK) and in rural
India this is a scaring sub 1%.
B As Indians, we have the second highest number of facebook users (more than population
of Europe), but yet internet penetration across the entire population is sub 10%.
On balance, I believe it is wise and fair to accept the criticism that India is among the worst
performing countries in the world for digital inclusion (Maplecroft Report). This however presents
us with a significant opportunity for inclusion and growth via computers penetration, internet
usage and overall literacy (in addition to the myriad and compounding benefits that would accrue
via the multiplier effects phenomenon at the macro-economic/national level) [. . .]
[. . .] Clearly it is our collective responsibility as constructive people and responsible statutory
bodies to urgently address the issues and challenges of digital divide – Lest we miss the boat
and really fade away – the present information/digital age will but only accelerate even more
rapidly in the years to come. We know from hard experience that unequal education hardens into
unequal prospects[27].
Consumer insights
The market for new computers and computer peripherals was in the urban markets largely
among consumers with high disposable incomes. The penetration levels in rural markets
and among consumer of SEC B-D was abysmal. Consumer insights from various market
reports indicated however, that there is a felt need for computer ownership among sections
of lower socio-economic strata.
A study reported in siliconindia.com covering 82 cities and 19,000 households showed an
increase in computer ownership in urban areas in three years (2008-2010) from 19 to 38 per
cent across the SEC A-C segments. The study also reported the desirability of ownership of
PCs across the three segments and indicated that SEC C had increased desirability for
ownership of PCs of over 100 per cent (from 26 to 54 per cent; SEC A-C taken together: from
34 to 57 per cent). A reaction on the report from R. Sivakumar, Managing Director, Sales and
Marketing, Intel (South Asia) was reported thus:
This is an exciting time for the Indian PC market and the recently concluded study by Intel and
IMRB has revealed that reiterates the same. We have always believed that the personal computer
is a multi-functional device that consumers can use to work, learn and play, most importantly it
helps people to take full advantage of today’s technological advances and prepare for tomorrow’s
This study also indicated that the youth were the driving force in purchasing of PCs and that
despite pester power starting early, youth in the age group of 18-24 played a big facilitating
role in decision making. Further, the report stated:
[. . .] socio – economic class buyers do not buy low, they sensibly seek value in the PC & how it can
impact their daily life in a positive manner. However, perceptions of complexity in using a PC still
exist where PCs are not viewed as intuitive[28].
In a study by MAIT[29], whose focus area included ‘‘increasing IT penetration/usage in
India’’, it was revealed that there has been a surge in PC penetration in the SEC C
households. In the year 2011-2012, this section has apparently grown by 45 per cent and
now constitutes 36 per cent of the PC market. Ashok Baradhwaj, the president of MAIT
stated: rising contribution of the SEC C segment and higher internet and PC penetration in
smaller towns may give desktops stronger traction[30] (Exhibit 16 for increasing internet
penetration in smaller towns).
Reboot: prospective market
Given that the PC penetration in the Indian market was only to the extent of 4-7 per cent when
including metros and less than 1 per cent when considering only the II and III tier towns and
cities compared to a more than 80 per cent penetration of telecom services, the team at
Reboot found that there was immense opportunity to deliver affordable laptops to these
upwardly mobile and aspirational consumers. The IAMAI report had pointed out that 57.7
per cent of the internet users accessed the internet through common access points such as
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cyber cafes and that the aspirations of people in tier II and II cities was rising, there was a
strong indication of latent and unmet need of consumer (Exhibit 19 and 20 for access points
across various segments).
As Subbarao pointed out:
[. . .] while utility has been exploding and getting further accelerated with Facebook, cloud and
Moore’s law demonstrability, the actual penetration of computer equipment per se has been
significantly slower – specifically at SEC B/C/D [. . .] the vast belly of the market (SEC B/C) is
under penetrated/under-served. The opportunity was there, considering penetration of other
devices and gadgets.
By breaking adoption barriers of affordability and accessibility, the Reboot team saw an
opportunity to cater to the underserved market.
An analysis of Google adwords to understand consumers online search behaviour had
revealed a high daily search frequency for affordable computers via key words such as best
computers (96,000) cheap computers (71,000), cheap computers (61,000), second hand
computers (52,000) and refurbished computers (31,000). This indicated that Indian consumers
were searching for computers that best fit their needs and that they were looking for the best
possible values. In searching for best value in performance and price, they were searching for
‘‘cheap’’ computers (as Subbarao pointed out – ‘‘just like cheaptravel fares’’) and even second
hand computers The term refurbished was less well-known in India as such a concept was
unknown and not as prevalent in the more developed countries where branded companies
wouldput up ‘‘as good as newcomputers’’ for sale through their ownchannels.Hence, fromthis
it was clear that consumers were looking for ‘‘best’’ value computers that would fit both their
purpose andpurse.Reboot neededtobuilda strongawareness of the concept of ‘‘refurbished’’
and ‘‘as good as new computers’’ from used computers.
The Reboot team’s estimation of the market was reflective of the universal market projection
based on MAIT formula of 10 per cent year on year growth. They contended that Reboot was
coming in at the lower end (Figure 1), as a category expander and was seeking to establish
presence in tier II and III towns and aimed for an early presence in ten such towns. So it was
planned to increase the retail ‘‘footprint’’ from 3 to 65 towns in five years through a staggered
implementation process and the potential volumes were derived accordingly. Even at the
early stages of operations, the revenue stream stood at INR 2-2.25 million/month.
Figure 1 The computing device market in terms of value
INR 30K+ (Branded computers)
60% of the sales
INR 10-20K (Notebooks)
25% of the sales
INR 5-10k
(Mobiles, tablets and
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Reboot: strategic approach
The lack of PC penetration in the market had been a concern from several quarters. Harish
Kohli, the MD of Acer India made an appeal to the Indian Government (before the budget
season of 2013) thus:
With the penetration of PCs at just six per cent in India, there is an enormous opportunity to
deepen our presence. The government should help the industry reach out to this huge untapped
market. This can come about through higher depreciation rates; set-off of the PC cost against the
income-tax payable in a block of two years (much like LTA); and enable easy loans for purchase of
PCs. All this will result in improved PC penetration, which is woefully low even compared to peers
in the BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, China – group. And pave the way to attract FDI (foreign direct
investment) in local manufacture of key components such as processors, memory, storage,
optical drives, displays and motherboards and create a healthy ecosystem for a robust domestic
IT manufacturing base[31].
Producing cheaper computers required reducing costs of manufacturing by completely
innovating products and reducing selling costs. Given Indian Geographic terrains, it is
difficult for Multinational Corporations to cut down these costs. They may however increase
frequency rates of purchase and repurchase by increasing rates of depreciation to increase
revenues, but this came with an undesirable consequence. Rahul Chowdhury, as a CEO of
another technology based business, called attention to the fact that several
information-technology based companies find that their computers as assets are written
off through depreciation in three to four years, after which they have no accounting value for
the companies. These computers are however robust and in useable conditions for at least
another three to four years. Despite their potential usefulness, these computers are
sold/discarded at highly discounted rates in the secondary markets where most of them are
marked out for recycling. Given the poor governance standards of illegal recycling in the
secondary market, the volume of computers sent for recycling lead to consequences of poor
e-waste management. This seemed like an enormous waste of computing power that could
be used by those who do not have access to the same.
The objective of Reboot Systems was not to provide cheap computers but ‘‘frugal’’ ones.
According to Subbarao:
Frugal innovation for us is getting efficiency and effectiveness right. At Reboot this meant –
striking the ‘‘just right’’ balance on mapping customer requirements to product design using
sustainable delivery mechanisms and inter alia, the cost structures and brand propositions.
This meant that consumers could buy computers that were configured just right for their
requirements and did not lead to wastage of computing capacities. Several usage cases
were constructed to help consumers identify the right kind of computers for their need and
were priced suitably (See usage in Exhibit 22). A doctoral student from Hyderabad Central
University who needed a good configuration of computer at an inexpensive rate stated the
following: ‘‘I was looking for an i7 and found the perfect combination of price & performance
in reboot XTREME series. I recommend reboot to all with no reservations.’’ Yet another
agricultural research scholar Mr Venkat Prasad had bought a laptop from Reboot on
recommendation from his friend. He said, ‘‘I saved a lot of money’’. He had checked the
market for a comparable configuration and found that it had cost INR 55,0000 when he had
got his computer from Reboot at INR 30,000. Besides he says, ‘‘they all offered the same one
year warranty’’ (Exhibit 18 for more customer feedback).
Rahul enunciated:
Considering the options that a consumer has for purchasing a computer in the Indian market, he
would either have to buy a new branded computer at INR 30,000-60,000 from the organised retail
market or buy a non-warrantied and discarded used computer from the secondary market at INR
2,500-4,000 at the risk of non-performance.
Subbarao pointed out that the low-income low-tech knowledge individual thinks of a
computer as a hi-tech and hi-risk product about which he knows little and is fearful of buying
one. The felt-risk and fear of purchase increases when the price paid is more. Reboot fits in
the middle, where perhaps a first time buyer of computers who has need for little computing
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power and knows less about its usage, can buy a relatively risk-free product at prices he can
afford (Figure 1). Anand further pointed out that for someone who is a first time user of
computers, an inexpensive used-computer brought with a warranty and certification allows
him to experiment with the product more confidently than if he were using a new expensive
branded computer.
With a mission to bridge the digital divide by providing an affordable and accessible
alternative, Reboot could cater to the latent demand for computer ownership among lower
economic classes and tier II and III cities in India. In catering to this demand, rather than
produce new computers at lower prices, the refurbished computers were an environment
friendly[32] way to extend the life of used computers. Based on these insights, the vision and
mission for Reboot were chalked out.
As stated in their web site: the core belief at Reboot was that ‘‘everyone deserves a
computer’’. In this, Reboot aimed to distinguish itself as a leader in redefining the IT
hardware market for diverse market segments in an eco-friendly manner. Reboot would
leverage frugal innovations via reengineering and recertifying technologies to deliver on:
B improved access through multiple channels;
B increased affordability; and
B integrated QoS.
To bridge India’s digital divide in an eco-friendly manner by building a sustainable business
Reboot’s mission is to be India’s first national provider to offer value-priced, certified,
co-branded, pre-owned computers (PCs, laptops, etc.) and hardware; backed by a
warranty and quality assurance.
Team Reboot had thus identified an opportunity to serve the cause of bridging the digital
divide by organising the unorganised personal computer market while simultaneously
providing individuals and corporates the raison d’etre to associate with Reboot for socially
responsible e-waste management.
Reboot: market approach
While the aim of Reboot computers was to offer refurbished used computers at affordable
prices, the value proposition for the customer was in the whole package of the Reboot
computer. Reboot cleaned, tested, re-engineered the product, re-certified the software,
provided a one year warranty and offered it in a branded packaging (Exhibit 21 for
comparison figures). Thus, Reboot computers were branded, value priced (40-60 per cent
lower than market price), quality was assured ((tie-ups for re-certification and components –
UXD Tech – a software based recertification firm from California, USA and MS-Microsoft
Registered Refurbisher (MRR)) and was backed by warranty. To make it more affordable,
equated monthly instalments (EMIs) options were also made available. Their product range
included computers that had P4 to i7 processors, 1-8 GB RAM, 80-1,000GB hard disk at
prices ranging from INR 9,000-30,000 (Exhibit 22, 23 and 25 for value in specific usage
cases and product ecosystem). Positioning itself on performance and price and comparing
with Indian and MNC branded computers as well as assemblers and other computing
devices in the market, Reboot was positioned as a high performance and low price option
where competition is virtually non-existent in the Indian market (Exhibit 24 for positioning
map and comparisons).
The supply sources for Reboot computers initially were domestic agencies – Asset
Management Companies (AMCs) based in Mumbai and Delhi, who procured from
international suppliers legally and also from domestic corporations, Reboots online bidding
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service (e-store) and their own asset management services (procurement channel via tie
ups with collection and asset management agencies). In late 2012 and early 2013, the
domestic agencies were the largest supply source (Exhibit 26 for current supplier share).
Team Reboot aimed to source 80 per cent of their supply from Indian corporates. They also
aimed to obtain the e-waste licence from the Indian Government to source used computers
internationally[33]. The team was grappling with policy makers to obtain an e-waste licence
exclusively for reuse of computers. The policy however allowed e-waste licensing only to
those agencies that would like to manage the whole e-waste cycle that includes not just
reuse of products, but also manage recycling and safe discarding of the e-waste
material[34]. As Subbarao pointed out:
We work on the premise of ‘‘Live more, Do more’’ and would like to extend the life of computers
and in the process let more people access them for better living. We are not in the business of
e-waste management, but would like to address it in the process of bridging the digital divide. In
allowing us to import used computers the number of new computers being produced to cater to
the large demand will reduce and help partially in managing e-waste. In the long run, it is
beneficial to all stakeholders.
At Reboot, the team planned to use a multi-pronged approach to reach their multiple
segments. They planned to open a series of Reboot branded (infinity stores – Exhibit 27 for
the infinity logo from the two o’s in Reboot) retail stores through a combination of franchises
and owned stores for the individual consumer in the metros as well as the tier II and II cities.
According to Rahul, besides addressing the digital divide and managing e-waste,
developing a ‘‘retail footprint’’ for Reboot across the country was an important agenda since
access to affordable computers was one of the main reasons for the poor PC penetration in
the country. The Reboot team believed that a single channel would not be sufficient to reach
the potential segments in the market. Subbarao with his extensive experience in consumer
goods and telecom, both of which have managed a high degree of penetration in the
country, wanted to build multiple channels. The other channels included a set of
redistributors in various geographies who understood tiers II and III consumers as well as
the online channel through which individuals or institutions could reach out to Reboot for
supply and purchase of used-computers. They launched several stores across various
states like Andhra Pradesh (South India), Gujrat (north-west) and in some of the north-east
states of India[35]. They were establishing a network of redistribution stockists across
various Indian states[36]. They planned to expand their online supply reach pan-India in the
next year. The e-store (Exhibit 28, for screenshot of e-store), operational by April 2013, was
used as an additional sourcing channel. To reach out to the institutional buyers, such as
government agencies, educational institutions and SMEs, they decided to set up their own in
house asset management company to tie up sourcing/procurement from large and medium
corporations in India.
Building a strong and visible brand was one of the most important goals of the team. They
had developed the logo and branding elements which were used in creating visibility for the
Reboot Stores. The brand elements were used across all the products they sold. As the
founding team then discovered:
When children use a Reboot branded computer at their school lab or people access it at the work
place and in public internet cafes, they realise that it functions just as well as a brand new
computer and serves their purpose adequately. At the value prices that Reboot computers are
offered, they are bound to become a considerably strong choice option within the customer
consideration set eventually.
While the branded retail stores, redistributors and the online channel could help to make
inroads into the individual market, they felt that the institutional market was a large segment
that could be catered through direct channel. These comprised schools and colleges, Small
businesses and government agencies and organisations. According to a school principal:
[. . .] the courses that teach about computers in schools have syllabus that hardly enable students
to understand how to use one. Unless the students are exposed to computers, it is hard for them
to understand how a computer really works and what it does.
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According to the educational testing services (ETS) report on ‘‘computers and classrooms:
the status of technology in US schools’’, 98 per cent of the schools owned computers and 85
per cent owned multi-media computers[37]. According to INFORM, a non-profit agency that
enables a sustainable future:
Businesses and individuals can receive tax deductions for donations of some computer
equipment under two years old. Government agencies will need to establish a computer
deacquisition process in order to legally give away computers to outside organizations. The
federal government has done this through Executive Order 12999, ‘‘Educational Technology:
Ensuring Opportunity for All Children in the Next Century’’, which facilitated the donation of
approximately 70,000 pieces of computer equipment to schools from federal agencies in
Such policies in India could help in making inexpensive computers available to educational
institutions and could help in furthering the cause of digital inclusion as well as increase
awareness of using refurbished computers, especially those that were Reboot branded.
Taking the edge off e-waste
Reboot primarily catered to the top end of the e-waste management process (Figure 2). In
doing this they believed that they were extending the usability of the product and also
reduced the need to produce more new computers which would eventually lead to more ewaste.
Therefore, building awareness of this opportunity was an important branding and
business agenda for Reboot computers.
Reboot not only provided affordable and risk-free refurbished computers, but also
advanced the cause of extending the life of a used computer. To spread awareness, the
Reboot Team launched several green donation and buy-back programs where they
increased awareness of how e-waste could be managed through supply and purchase of
used computers.
Green India Ambassadors
Three schemes were developed under a social-awareness drive developed by the team as
the ‘‘Green India Ambassadors’’. Take-back program for advancing the cause of e-waste
management among communities and individuals. These schemes were tailored for
corporates, institutions as well as individuals under titles: iBridge, iLabs and iHelp (Exhibit
29 for scheme details). For individuals who contributed to the scheme, they were
incentivised with the sponsored label on the product as well as a certificate in the name of
the donating organisation, individual or institution (Exhibit 30 for sample certificate). In
addition to this, the reboot web site helps institutions and other interested stakeholders to
calculate e-waste benefits in reusing the computers (Exhibit 31 for screenshot of webpage).
Figure 2 The levels of managing e-waste from computers
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While the larger agenda for the Reboot team was to scale up their operations, the immediate
challenges included streamlining the supply through the Green India Ambassador program
and procuring the e-waste license so that they could source used computers internationally
as well as building the supply chain through multiple channels. The team at Reboot
contended that if, with all the computers in the market, leaving out the metros is less than 1
per cent, even an increase of 1 per cent penetration, in terms of volumes, can yield
substantial returns.
It was clear to the team that organised refurbished computer retaining was easily imitable
and given the fragmented nature of the market, several players could quickly come up with
comparable offerings. They hoped that a first mover advantage coupled with ability to build
a trustworthy and strong brand will help to penetrate the market quickly. They had to create a
retail footprint and make in-roads through multiple distribution channels to quickly capture
the market and build awareness for their brand.
The real test of whether the brand will help penetration of computer ownership was in its
ability to straddling multiple markets – urban and rural across socio-economic classes B, C
and D as well as institutional markets. Building and keeping a strong visible brand relevant
across all groups was a challenge unless they identified a unifying universal
value-proposition. Despite an unambiguous segmentation of possible target markets, it
was clear that these customers were highly heterogeneous in terms of income levels,
geographic spread as well as awareness and knowledge levels. Additionally, the team had
to focus on strategically aligning their central agenda of bridging the digital divide to market
development by collaborating with other stakeholders such as policy makers.
1. The board members (considered here) consisted of three main founder members – Subbarao, the
CEO who managed the strategic and operational matters at Reboot; Anand Tater, who had initiated
the brand ‘‘Reboot’’ and had an understanding of the market in negotiating with vendors as well as
customers; Rahul Chowdhury, who managed investor relations and had taken on the responsibility
of developing the much needed resources for an up-and-coming enterprise. Amongst them, the
Reboot Team managed the various challenges of a start-up.
2. While the primary market refers to the first-hand new branded computers available in the organized
retail market, secondary market is the market for used-computers usually in the unorganized retail
sector. According to a Gartner report in 2005: ‘‘The secondary PC market comprises computers that
have been used for more than three months by primary/initial users and then passed on to another
party or stored.’’
3. They initially bought computers at Nehru Place, an unorganized secondary market for computers
and peripherals in the national capital of Delhi (India).
4. Anand was working with his brother Rishab Tater at the time Reboot was initiated.
5. The earliest customers of Reboot were the workers from a garment factory which Anand was
managing at the time. Eventually people who were unable to afford a new branded computer from
the organised market such as office assistants, drivers and even courier delivery boys became
customers of Reboot.
6. In Rao (2005), The internet users account for only 6 per cent of world’s population and out of that 85
per cent of them are in developed countries where 90 per cent of all internet hosts are located. Also
refer Reboot blog: http://reboot.co.in/blog/digital-divide-in-india/
7. Maplecroft is a research agency that produced development and risk indices of various countries,
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_India
9. English is the most used language on the internet. See exhibit for language used on internet.
10. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG. The aggregate GDP growth has been
higher than 8 per cent given that the growth rate was over 9 per cent in 2010.
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11. This paragraph is largely based on data from Jones (2012).
12. www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm
13. www.deccanherald.com/content/307934/indias-net-penetration-not-good.html
14. http://maplecroft.com/about/news/digital_inclusion_index.html. Maplesoft has developed a new
index called ‘‘digital inclusion’’ – the ability to use and access information communication
technologies (ICTs), such as computers, the internet and mobile phones – the stifled development
of which can lead to reduced growth in development. The report quotes: Of the BRICs nations, India
(39) is the only country to be classified as ‘‘extreme risk’’, meaning that the country’s population
suffers from a severe lack of digital inclusion. China (103) Brazil (110) and Russia (134) are rated
‘‘medium risk’’. Despite huge economic growth, the BRICs nations are still significantly
outperformed by developed nations in the Digital Inclusion Index. The countries with the best
access to ICTs are The Netherlands (186), Denmark (185), Luxembourg (184), Sweden (183) and
the UK (182). Trends suggest that the BRICs nations may not lag behind for much longer however.
15. Datamonitor report on Indian hardware market (June 2010).
16. NComputing is a company that uses the unused power of servers to provide computing power to
those who do not own a computer by simply fixing a small gadget to a desktop devise. They have
tried to garner the use of cloud computing to provide affordable computing. Ref: www.ncomputing.
17. The two houses of the Indian parliament are the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha
(House of people). The Rajya Sabha is the equivalent of the House of Lords at the parliament of
England and the Lok Sabha is equivalent to the House of Commons.
18. http://ban.org/ban_news/2008/08070_india_inc_waking_up.html
19. Unorganised sector consists of assortment of small and informal business not givenered by any
stringent health or environmental regulations. These workers are unprotected and sometimes even
work from home, increasing chances of exposure to toxic chemicals.
20. There are 23 recycling plants which have been acknowledges as having environmentally sound
processes and are registered under the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and
Forest/Central Pollution Control Board. Despite this most of the recycling and reprocessing occurs
only in the unorganized market.
21. http://ban.org/ban_news/2008/08070_india_inc_waking_up.html
22. Aakash is first in a series of Android-based tablet computers produced by British company
DataWind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aakash_(tablet)#cite_note-SKurup-2) It is manufactured by
the India-based company Quad, at a new production centre in Hyderabad (http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Aakash_(tablet)#cite_note-nyt2-3), the device was developed as part of the country’s aim to link
25,000 colleges and 400 universities in an e-learning program (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aakash_
(tablet)#cite_note-bbc_10740817-8). Originally projected as a ‘‘$35 laptop (http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Aakash_(tablet)#cite_note-PIB-9)’’, the device will be sold to the Government of India and
distributed to university students – initially at US$50. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aakash_(tablet).
According to a Bloomberg report, ‘‘The device was supposed to democratize and accelerate India’s
march into the information-technology era. It was supposed to be India’s answer to Nicholas
Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project: an indigenous brand that brought computing power to
children in village schools, and to students of all ages from poor families, at a third of the cost
estimated by Negroponte’’, www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-22/india-s-rickety-bridge-acrossits-
23. Datamonitor is well known industry analysis and market research company that provide industry
24. www.seedcoregroup.com/knol/51-sme-it/244-ict-penetration-in-india
25. This is surprising when compared to the year 200 data when there were only 5 per cent (translating
to 5 million users) who accessed the internet from towns that had less than 5 lakh population.
26. http://reboot.co.in/blog/digital-divide-in-india/
27. http://reboot.co.in/blog/digital-divide-in-india/
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28. www.siliconindia.com/shownews/PC_penetration_in_urban_India_has_doubled_in_3_years_
29. www.mait.com/?page_id¼2
30. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-09-05/chennai/33614299_1_pc-sales-notebooksales-
31. http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/help-industry-deepen-pc-penetration-135431777.html
32. 25 times environmentally beneficial to reuse computers than to recycle them at three to five years of
age. This was because a new PC manufacturing requires Three times energy a PC consumes in its
lifespan and Uses 20K Pounds of raw material (Source: Schluep et al. (2003).
33. Significant recycle volume exists globally (NA, WE, SEA and ME) – estimated 500 million units
34. http://ewasteguide.info/ewastedata
35. They had planned a series of nine stores across Andhra Pradesh between April and September
(2013); two in Gujarat and five in the north-east which were in the prospect stage.
36. They had signed two and were planning to establish eight to ten by end of 2013 in Andhra
37. www.namodemello.com.br/pdf/tendencias/computersintheclassroom.pdf
38. www.informinc.org/fact_CWPcomputer.php#note11
Frugal innovation,
Digital divide,
E-waste management,
Emerging markets
strategy and innovation,
Marketing strategy in
emerging markets,
Social entreprenuership
Hindman, D.B. (2000), ‘‘The rural-urban digital divide’’, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly,
Vol. 77 No. 3, pp. 549-560, ABI/INFORM Global.
Jones, J.P. (2012), Brands as Engines of Profit: Universal Guidelines on How to Drive Growth, Maplecroft
Report, Bath.
Rao, S.S. (2005), ‘‘Bridging India’s digital divide: efforts in India’’, Telematics and Informatics, Vol. 22,
pp. 361-375.
Schluep, M., Mu¨ ller, E., Hilty, L.M., Ott, D., Widmer, R. and Bo¨ ni, H. (2003), Insights from a Decade of
Development Cooperation in E-Waste Management, E-Collection ETH Institutional Repository, Zurich.
Sharma, M. (2012), ‘‘Affordable computing is the need of the hour’’, Financial Express, available at:
www.financialexpress.com/news/affordable-computing-is-the-need-of-the-hour/951774/3 (accessed
21 May 2012).
Sinha, S. (2007), Downside of Digital Revolution, Toxics Link, available at: www.toxicslink.org (accessed
28 December 2007).
Sinha, S. (2008), ‘‘Dark shadows of digitization on Indian horizon’’, in Johri, R. (Ed.), E-waste:
Implications, Regulations and Management in India and Current Global Best Practices, TERI, New Delhi,
p. 27.
Stanley, M. and Barney, S. (2011), ‘‘Asian affluence: the emerging 21st century middle class’’, in
Kerschner, E.M. and Huq, N. (Eds), The Emerging Middle Classes in China and India are Poised to Force
a Shift in Global Consumer Spending.
Exhibit 1. SEC description
The socio-economic classification in India (SEC)
The SEC classification the classification of Indian consumers on the basis of two parameters
occupation and education of the chief wage earner (CWE, head) of the households. The SEC
classification, created in 1988, was ratified by Market Research Society of India (MRSI) and
is used by most media researchers and brand managers to understand the Indian
consuming class. Originally developed by IMRB International as a way of understanding
market segments, and consumer behavior it was standardized and adopted by the MRSI in
the mid-1980s as a measure of socio-economic class and is now commonly used as a
market segmentation tool in India:
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B the urban SEC grid, which uses education levels and occupational criteria of the CWE of a
household as measures to determine socio-economic classification, and segments urban
India into seven groups (A1-E2); and
B the rural SEC grid, which uses education and type of house (pucca, semi-pucca, and
katcha) as measures of socio-economic class, and segments rural India into four groups
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEC_Classification_(India)
The socioeconomic classification (SEC) groups urban Indian households on the basis of
education and occupation of the CWE (the person who contributes the most to the household
expenses) of the household into five segments (SEC A, SEC B, SEC C, SEC D and SEC E
households in that order). This classification is more stable than one based on income alone
and being reflective of lifestyle is more relevant to the examination of consumption behaviour.
Here, ‘‘high’’ socioeconomic classes refers to SEC A and B, ‘‘mid’’ socioeconomic class refers
to SEC C and ‘‘low’’ socioeconomic classes refers to SEC D and E.
The CWEs of nearly half the SEC A households work in executive positions. The other half
comprises mainly of industrialist/businessmen or shop owners. Almost all of them are either
graduates or post graduates. CWEs of SEC B households are primarily employed at clerical
or supervisory levels (46 per cent). 29 per cent are shopkeepers while 10 per cent are
industrialist/businessmen. Less than half are graduates or post graduates (45 per cent). 38
per cent are educated till the tenth or 12th grade, while 13 per cent have had some college
The mid socioeconomic class (SEC C) comprises households whose CWEs are employed at
clerical or supervisory levels (37 per cent), skilled workers (33 per cent), petty traders (12
per cent) or shop owners (18 per cent). Three quarters of them are educated till the tenth or
12th grade while the rest have attended school till a maximum of the ninth grade. Less than
half the CWEs of households belonging to the low socioeconomic classes (SEC D and E) are
unskilled workers. About 28 per cent are skilled workers while 18 per cent are petty traders.
45 per cent have attended school till a maximum of the ninth grade and 31 per cent are
Source: http://indiaretailbiz.wordpress.com/2006/10/15/socio-economic-classificationssec-
Exhibit 2. Demand and penetration for consumer durables
Table EI
Demand and penetration for consumer durables for ’000 household
1995-1996 2001-2002 2005-2006 2009-2010
DDa Penb DD Pen DD Pen DD Pen
Cars 276 16.1 788 30.0 1,560 50.2 3,466 91.4
Motorcycle 760 29.3 2,599 70.8 4,663 147.6 8,369 282.6
Color TV 1,785 72.0 4,580 145.6 6,295 213.0 9,957 314.0
Refrigerator 1,850 86.1 3,006 134.0 4,335 160.7 6,774 224.9
White goods 3,437 149.4 6,024 247.1 8,727 319.1 13,149 451.7
Notes: aDemand; bpenetration
Source: National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER’s) Market Information Survey of
Households: ‘‘The Great Indian Market’’
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Exhibit 3
Exhibit 4
Figure E1
Sources: Internet world Stats-www.internetworldststs.com/stats.htm; penetration rates are
based on a world population of 7,017,846,922 and 2,405,518,376 estimated Internet users
on june 30, 2012; Copyright  2012; Miniwatts Marketing Group
Figure E2
Sources: Internet World stats-www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm; 2,405,518,376 Internet
users estimated for June 30, 2012; Copyright  2012; Miniwatts Marketing Group
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Exhibit 5
Figure E3
Sources: Internet World stats-www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm; estimated internet users
are 1, 966,514,816 on June 30, 2010; Copyright  2000-2010; Miniwatts Marketing Group
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Exhibit 6. Maplecroft rating on digital inclusion index
Exhibit 7. E-waste quantity
Figure E4
Source: Maplecroft report. http://maplecroft.com/about/news/digital_inclusion_index.html
Table EII
E-waste in 500 million computers
1. Plastic £6.32 billion
2. Lead £1.58 billion
3. Cadmium £3 million
4. Chromium £1.9 million
5. Mercury £632,000
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Exhibit 8
Exhibit 9
Table EIII
Hazardous and non-hazardous substances from e-waste
Harmless Harmful
Platinum Arsenic. Arsenic is a poisonous metallic element which is present in dust and
soluble substances. Chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to skin diseases,
decrease nerve conduction velocity, can lead to cancer and can often be fatal.
Gold Beryllium. Carcinogenic and causes lung cancer
Silver Cadmium. Acute exposure to cadmium fumes causes flu-like symptoms of
weakness, fever, headache, chills, sweating and muscular pain. Long term
exposure are lung cancer and kidney damage. Causes Itai-itai disease that causes
pain in joints.
Copper Chromium. They are irritating to eyes, skin, mucous membranes and can also
cause DNA damage
Ferrous metals Lead. Short-term exposure to high levels of lead can cause vomiting, diarrhea,
convulsions. Long term exposure can affects kidney
Mercury. It is a toxic heavy metal that bio accumulates causing brain and liver
damage if ingested or inhaled.
Barium. Barium forms poisonous oxides when in contact with air. Exposure to
barium could lead to brain swelling, muscle weakness, damage to the heart, liver
and spleen, increased blood pressure
Selenium. Causes selenosis. Major signs of selenosis are hair loss, nail brittleness,
and neurological abnormalities
Other heavy materials
Source: Compiled from Ernst and Young Report on E-Waste Management and Rajya Sabha Paper on
E-Waste in India
Figure E5
Acer 14%
% Share Of Market
Source: Company sources
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Exhibit 10
Exhibit 11. Usage of PC across countries
Figure E6
Supplier power
Weak Strong
Buyer power
Degree of rivalry
New entrants
Source: Datamonitor
Figure E7
Source: Stanley and Barney (2011)
China India US Japan
2009 2015
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Exhibit 12
Exhibit 13
Figure E8
China India US Japan
Notes: Number of PCs in India and China is expected to double
by 2015; there are only 325 million computers in these countries
taken together
Source: Stanley and Barney (2011)
Figure E9
China India US Japan
Note: India is forecast to have the highest PC ownership growth
rate in the next five years
Source: Stanley and Barney (2011)
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Exhibit 14
Exhibit 15. Internet and broadband connectivity
Figure E10
Proportion of households in possession of broadband enabled
computers in selected countries: 2010
% of total households
Sources: Euromonitor International from trade sources/national statistics; http
Table EIV
Internet and broadband connection details as of March 2011a
PC instal
Broadband (BB)
Active internet users
BB: active internet user
Urban households 21,019,424 10,687,835 8,709,898 37,170,032 21,019,424
Micro and small medium
30,987,382 3,367,000 2,600,000 16,365,778 30,987,382
Schools/colleges and
5,500,000 393,213 314,571 2,933,107 5,500,000
Public access – CSC
189,572 94,786 94,786 14,300,000 189,572
Cyber cafes 904,470 150,745 150,745 28,568,523 904,470
Total 58,600,848 14,692,366 11,870,000 – –
Note: aThe details do not cover large corporations or conglomerates; ‘‘–’’ as active internet users access info from multiple venues, this
cannot be accurately estimated
Source: IMRB-IAMAI Report on ‘‘Internet in India (I-Cube)’’, 2011
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Exhibit 16. Causes of non-usage
Exhibit 17. Changing geographic spread of penetration
Exhibit 18. Testimonials
I had bought a reboot ultra series (Core 2 Duo) desktop at a price I could not believe. The
systems work just like new and enables us to do all our development work (Sunil, Software
I did not want to spend excess money on my computer needs. With Reboot, I got what I was
looking for: low cost, high performance and good reliability (Shashi, Suprabhat constructors,
I was looking for a perfect gift for my wife and I found my solution in Reboot-TURBO
(Raghuram, bank manager, HDFC bank).
Figure E11
6% 6%
No internet
No PC at
No internet at
Cant afford
Lack of local
Source: IMRB and IAMAI report on “Internet in Rural India” (i-Cube) 2012
Figure E12
41% 38% 37% 34% 35%
20% 21% 21%
18% 18%
10% 12% 12%
12% 11%
29% 29% 30% 36% 37%
2006 2007 2008 2009 2011
Top 8 metros Other Metros 5-10 lakh towns less than 5 lakh towns
Source: IMRB and IAMAI report on “Internet in India (i-Cube) 2011”
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My experience with Reboot has been good. I was looking for an inexpensive computer and
bought Reboot through recommendation. I have had no problems in the last eight to nine
months since I have bought it. I have also recommended it to several people (Venkat Ravi,
Axis Bank).
Exhibit 19
Exhibit 20. Access points for internet
Figure E13
Figure E14
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%
CSC’s/Cyber Cafes > 10 kms from Village
CSC’s/Cyber Cafes < 10 kms from Village
Any other Public Installed Computer
Friend’s home
Block/Tehsil Office
District Office
Panchayat Office
Source: IMRB I-Cube 2012, Base: 17.8 million claimed Internet Users in seven states
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Exhibit 21. Comparison with used computer available in the market
Figure E15
Service support
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Exhibit 22. Usage case for individuals, small organizations and large organisations
Figure E16
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Exhibit 23. Product ecosystem as envisioned at Reboot
Exhibit 24. Positioning Reboot on perceived price and performance dimension
Figure E17
E waste
services: AMS,
Software supports
Peripherals Warranty
Better service
Recertified PCs &
Laptops +
Low End TABS
Bridge Digital
1. Refurbished
Desk tops
2. Refurbished
3. Peripherals
4. Low end
Android Tabs
5. Servers
Figure E18
• Reliability and warranty issues
• Seen as stop – gap/quick fix option
• Sub 15K
• Convenient/Affordable
MNC Brands-
• Desktops and laptops
• + Rs 30K onwards
• Continuous care (warranty led)
• Brands (& Reliable)
• Co-ordinates referrals
• Task focused-varied with width and depth of
performance needs
• Percvd price lower than MNC brands
• Govt tenders/SMEs/BPO/KPOs
• Weak referrals-not aspirational
• Sell and forget approach-deal with
AMC ahead
• Affordable (& Reliable)
• Co-ordinates referrals
• Person/Account focused
• Bridging digital divide approach
• Treats width and depth needs-Product range,
ecological and ecosystem play
Perceived Price-High
Assemblers (10-15% market)
Net Books (category expander)
Indian Brands
Perceived Price-Low
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Exhibit 25. Product range
Exhibit 26. Sources of supply
Figure E19
P4 Core2Duo i3 i5 i7
Figure E20
Domestic Agencies
International suppliers
Reboot Online Bidding
Reboot Asset Management
Supply Sourcing Evolution
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Exhibit 27. Infinity stores – a Reboot exclusive franchise
Plate E1
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Exhibit 28. E-store
Exhibit 29. Take back programs
Figure E21
Sort by product range, price range and type of computing device
Figure E22
Corporate, Institutions or Individuals can participate in ‘Take Back Programs’ via any of the
following three options:
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Exhibit 30. Certificate for the participant of the Green Indian Ambassador
Figure E23
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Exhibit 31. Screenshot of homepage with e-waste calculator and certification details
About the author
Professor Srividya Raghavan is an Associate Professor of marketing, with specific interest in
marketing communication, consumer behaviour, online business, digital marketing as well
as entrepreneurship. Research orientation is in the behavioural sciences, focused on
experimentation and usage of appropriate analytical techniques. Highlights of her career in
academics include introduction of industry inclusive and innovative experiential pedagogy,
development of new-age and innovative courses, development of award-winning cases and
several publications in international and national journals. Srividya Raghavan can be
contacted at: srividya.rags@gmail.com
Figure E24
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