They are called cell phones in the US and mobiles in India. India is the largest growth market for mobile phones adding about 60 lakh mobile phones every month. There are around 26 crore landline and mobile phones. India expects to reach 50 crore subscribers by the end of 2010.
Your maid servant has it, your painter, plumber, electrician and pretty much everyone has a cell phone. Its almost like any adult who wears footwear has a mobile phone.
The fact that people across all walks have it makes it easy to get things done. You need to find directions, go to a landmark close to the destination and call the person. Your contact will most likely give your a live updates and commentary as you find the location.
It has a nuisance value too. Since every one has it and the incoming call is free. You have no disincentive to pick up the call. Unlike in the US where you will be charged for picking up a call from a unknown number! Thus, telemarketers feel free to call you. It is very easy for the cell phone to become a nuisance.
In the US, many people buy a cell phone for emergencies. They hardly ever use the phone and look for the cheapest plan with a small number of minutes included in the plan.. I have seen many people buy a cell phone, when their car becomes old and unreliable. A tool to call the towing company or a friend when the vehicle breaks down.
In India it is a status symbol. People buy expensive cell phones with organizers, email capable feature, PC Synchronization and many other advanced features. However, a vast majority hardly use the productivity related tools. They just use the media player and the camera. However, in India people in generally are very savvy with fancy ringtones, custom backgroud image and other emotionally appealing features.
It it amazing how the same tool can be used in one country i.e. USA for a predominantly functional purpose i.e. increase productivity. Whereas, in India the cell phone is used for a basic functionality plus emotional / status indulgence. It is the exact same device – isn’t that interesting?