Then, in 2005, Bicchwe spent a precious $100 to buy himself a mobile phone. It was a huge investment, but Bicchwe wagered that it could enhance his business. Did it ever. Getting connected has allowed Bicchwe to become a player in India's reviving textile business and in the booming domestic consumer market. His business has more than doubled, from $12,000 in sales to $25,000 a year. He has his own home and a separate work space, and he has expanded his business -- from 15 looms in 2005 to 35 now. The other weavers he employs create 20,000 meters of exquisite hand-woven fabric a year, twice that produced two years ago.
His success has also enabled Bicchwe to become a consumer in his own right. Among his recent purchases are a 14-inch TV set, a Maruti Suzuki car, and a second-hand computer with Internet access. In a true sign of middle-class success in India, Bicchwe married off his daughter in reasonable style. And his 28-year-old son has joined the business, rather than strike out on his own.
Mobile phones make it possible for small businesses in India to grow and improve the lives of their owners and employees. And these business users aren't just using voice; they're also using applications like text messaging, voice tips, and the mobile Web. For most of these users, mobile phones are their only business tools for both voice and the Web.
When you see companies like Google pushing more applications on to smartphones, this is one of the key markets they're targeting. Putting applications such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Google Maps on cell phones isn't just about putting more consumer applications on more consumer phones, it's also about giving business users in all markets more access to these applications, too.