Citizens' Issues
All eyes will be on India when virtual reality phenomenon gets real
New Delhi : Once the virtual reality (VR) phenomenon explodes, India, with its huge smartphone base, will be a key market -- but VR players will have to come up with low-cost options to entice the country's "digital" consumers.
 
According to experts, head-mounted devices (HMDs) that create an immersive virtual world for users is the future after the successful touchscreen era. 
 
Today, the market is flooded with VR devices: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR (co-developed with Oculus), LG 360 VR, Google Cardboard, Zeiss VR One and One GX and several other players soon going to join the VR fray.
 
But, with a huge smartphone base of 160 million plus users that is likely to surpass the US smartphone user base in a couple of years, what India needs are low-cost VR headsets compatible with low-cost smartphones. Only then will VR use truly explode in India.
 
"I feel that VR adoption is currently at a minuscule level in India. Many firms like Sony, Samsung, HTC, OnePlus have joined Facebook’s Oculus platform in the virtual reality space. But we are still far away from its widespread adoption here,” says Thomas George, senior vice president and head of CyberMedia Research(CMR), a market research and consulting firm.
 
"But going forward, thanks to India’s rich demographic dividend, we may witness VR finding its 'sweet spot' in the youth segment. The adoption of virtual reality could see traction in the edutainment arena. Applications like immersive learning and entertainment, especially games, could kick-start its adoption sooner,” George told IANS.
 
According to the global research firm MarketsandMarkets, the international VR technology market is expected to reach $15.89 billion by 2020.
 
With VR technology, the user is isolated from the real world while being immersed in a world that is not real, so VR, in a way, works better for video games and social networking in a virtual environment.
 
But for Rajiv Srivatsa, COO and co-founder of Urban Ladder, a curated online furniture seller, VR can help complex purchase categories like theirs engage more effectively with consumers and helps the consumers make better, informed choices about the products they purchase.
 
"If the products are built right, VR has the power to revolutionise user-interaction,” he told IANS.
 
Although these are early days for VR, companies the world over - including in China, from where low-cost VR headsets will soon flood the markets - are now investing heavily in VR technology.
 
Facebook is credited with taking an early bet on virtual reality by acquiring the start-up Oculus VR for $2 billion in early 2014. It is expected to start shipping Oculus headsets -- priced at $599 -- in March this year and has already started taking orders.
 
South Korean electronics giant Samsung has also launched Gear VR -- its flagship virtual reality headset -- for Indian consumers in January for as low a price as Rs. 8,200.
 
Apple has reportedly hired experts in virtual and also augmented reality (AR) to built prototypes of headsets that can one day rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift.
 
Technology adoption by vendors is rapid. What is launched in the US and other advanced markets also gets due attention in India and VR is no different.
 
"We may not be 100 percent ready but definitely India should be seeing some activity around VR this year, especially the introduction of devices with VR features. This small step could in time serve as a 'big leap' and the start of more serious adoption in the country,” notes Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst, telecoms practice, CMR.
 
Several smartphones were launched in 2015 with VR technology which, beyond gaming, has a potential to help young people choose their careers too.
 
"For example, a smartphone using VR goggles can help a student virtually get a glimpse of a surgeon’s career in medicine by showing an immersive video on a surgical procedure or helping him or her choose an alternate career video altogether,” says George.
 
It has implications in other sectors too. For example, VR technology can be used to determine how people perceive their bodies, to treat body image disturbances and to improve adherence to physical activity among obese individuals.
 
"Virtual reality offers promising new approaches to assessing and treating people with weight-related disorders and early applications are revealing valuable information about body image,” according to researchers at the University of Barcelona, Spain, who recently demonstrated how VR environments can produce responses similar to those seen in the real world.
 
While we discuss VR, the next big thing coming our way is augmented reality (AR) and it has better chances to thrive. Unlike with VR, AR users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with the virtual world (remember Google Glass!) and this makes experts feel that AR has a definite edge over VR. (Let us keep a discussion on AR for another day though.)
 
"Pretty soon we're going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you're right there'," said Mark Zuckerberg while speaking at the just-concluded 'Samsung Mobile World Congress 2016' in Barcelona.
 
And when VR finally comes out in the open, with a massive smartphone consumer base, India is going to be a key player in the global VR ecosystem, say experts.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Crompton sells overseas power business
Mumbai : Crompton Greaves will sell its power business overseas to a US private equity fund for an enterprise value of 115 million euros, the company said in a regulatory filing here on Wednesday.
 
The statement said the company will sell its European, North American and Indonesian power transmission businesses to the US private equity fund, First Reserve International Limited.
 
The company manufactures fans, air coolers and power transmission equipment.
 
“The sale will enable the company to reduce debt and focus on its faster growing Indian businesses. The company continues to actively examine its other international B2B (business-to-business) businesses with a view to monetise these businesses to enhance shareholder value,” the statement filed with the BSE said.
 
The company's shares were trading Rs.147.70 per share, up 5.84 percent in the BSE at 1.11 p.m.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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NABARD and IRFC tax-free bonds – Finale for FY15-16
Both NABARD and IRFC are offering 7.64% for 15-year tax-free bonds. NABARD bonds opened today, while IRFC will open on 10th March. The trend in recent issues may see both the issues being oversubscribed on the first day itself
 
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is raising Rs3,500 crore tax-free bonds for the first time on Wednesday, 9 March 2016. It will have investor attention even though the rate of 7.64% for the 15-year bond is what was available with recent issues too. There will be interest among investors, as these are the last two opportunities for FY15-16. Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) will raise Rs2,450 crore tax-free bonds from 10th March offering the same interest rate as NABARD. As both issues are coming at almost the same time, there may be division in the investment on the part of investors, but it may still be oversubscribed on the first day. Both issues are rated AAA by CRISIL.
 
The possibility of rate cuts by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the near future will also spur the demand for tax-free bonds. Investors who have applied for recent issues of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) (24th February issue) and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) (2nd March issue) are still waiting for refund, as they could not get the full allotment, due to oversubscription on the first day itself. Due to the pending refunds, investors may not have enough liquidity for NABARD and IRFC, unless they had kept funds ready for it in advance.
 
 
Investors applying for NABARD and IRFC tax-free bonds on the first day itself may get good allotment. It just depends on investor liquidity and interest in the last two issues for the financial year, even though the coupon is not close to the psychological barrier of 8% per annum. IRFC issue will be open only for three days, which shows the confidence of quickly getting full subscription for all categories.
 
The Budget 2016 has made allocation of Rs55,000 crore for highways sector of which NHAI can raise tax free bonds of Rs15,000 crore. Interest rate cycle is difficult to predict. Investors who purchased many tax-free bonds in 2012-13 at a coupon of nearly 8% may have missed 2013-14 issues of over 9% coupon, if they had not kept funds ready for it. So, invest in upcoming tax-free bonds, but do not exhaust all the funds. If there are tax-free bond issues in the next financial year, it will be almost impossible to guess whether future coupon rate will be higher or lower.
 
Tax-free bonds from government enterprises are a good option for those in the higher tax bracket and for investing for the long-term. With 10-year bank FD offering 7%-7.5% taxable interest, tax-free bonds with 7.29% coupon for 10 years (7.64% for 15 years) are attractive for those in 20% or higher tax bracket. Awareness of tax savings, by investing in government-owned companies’ tax-free bonds issues, has helped recent issues offering around 7.5% pa coupon. 
 
The stock market decline in recent times has attracted investors to tax-free bonds. High networth individuals (HNIs), including Bollywood stars and corporate honchos, have been big investors in the current financial year. Smaller-size issues are getting oversubscribed on the first day itself even for the retail quota; hence, get ready for the March tax-free bonds finale.

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COMMENTS

Pradip Nagpal

5 months ago

Which are the forthcoming tax free bond

Kumar Swamy

9 months ago

No more tax-free bonds for the year 2016-17?

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