Recently speaking to the press, Craig Mundie, Chief Research and
Strategy Officer, Microsoft said that it might take a decade or two to tackle
piracy in the world. Something similar was echoed by Brian J Campbell who has
been spearheading the Genuine Software Initiative for MS in India. I met Brian a
few days ago, and despite all the bad press and angry channel partners, that the
man has faced, his zeal remains unfazed. I know the cynics amongst us might
snigger that after all Microsoft pays the man for exactly that. But for a moment
just put yourself in his shoes, to be the most hated man in the channel
community, just because he is trying to do the right thing and telling you not
to indulge in what is clearly an unlawful activity. Definitely does not seem to
be the description of a dream job to me.
Piracy today is a worldwide phenomenon. A survey conducted by
IDC for BSA in 2006 about the global trends in piracy had Armenia with the
highest piracy rate of 95 percent, China came in at number 17 with 82 percent
piracy rate. Though India did not make it to the top 20, the piracy rate in
India stood at 71 percent.
While the piracy rates in US stood at 22 percent, what is
probably surprising is that US is the market where Microsoft incurs most losses
since the installed PC base is huge.
In India the installed PC base at the moment stands at 22
million (IDC India Quarterly PC Tracker, Q1 2007). While the losses for software
vendors might not be that substantial as compared to US, it is definitely a
loss. There have been so many software vendors who have wound up their
operations in India just because their software, which they spent millions
developing, was sold for as low as Rs 100.
While we might all say that Microsoft is not being reasonable
having such price points for a price-sensitive Indian consumer, what we need to
realize are the larger ramifications that are coming our way. While India has
become a hub for outsourcing, how much software development is taking place on
our shores? Very little. Also in a country where gaming is increasingly becoming
a passion, not much development work is happening since any time a new game is
launched its pirated CDs are instantly available.
In the long run, that will be detrimental to the economic growth
of the country. With the rupee becoming stronger against the dollar, India is
now increasingly being seen as an expensive place to offshore. So if we want the
Indian economy to grow and our workforce to remain productively employed, the
industry needs to enhance development work in India, and that will only happen
once people start embracing original and genuine products. So in the interest of
the nation-Be genuine, buy genuine.