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"We are looking beyond optical media"

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DQW Bureau
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"We

are looking beyond optical media"

One

of the largest optical media companies, Moser Baer

had been growing at a fast pace, until the oil crisis happened. No thanks to

increasing polycar­bonate prices, the key raw material for optical media, Moser

Baer saw fortunes tumble quickly. For the first time in its history, the com­pany

showed losses. How­ever, it has quickly bounced back, and remains upbeat about

the future. In a interview with Yograj Varma, Deepak Puri, Chair­man of Moser

Baer, talks about the fall from grace story, about hardware manu­facturing and

his future plans.

On hardware manufacturing



I think we have a very vibrant service sector. But to me, it is selling

labor. I think we should start looking at selling beyond services, going into

hardware or into some finished software. Unfortunately, that is not happening.

Add to that, the Indian govern­ment (previous and current) does not under­stand

the hardware business. Let us take the example of cell phone manufac­turing in

India. It is a very complex opera­tion if you start looking at the entire value

chain. As no phone assembler makes the component himself, he has to have very

tight control of inventory. Since most of the components will be impor­ted,

they will factor in the time lag in clearing imports. By the time that it takes

the material to reach the factory, the model would have changed. I think the

government has to mitigate these difficulties.

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Another example is Intel.

When Intel announced its plans for India, all semicon­ductor compa­nies were

wat­ching the deal carefully. I think the day semicon­ductor comes in, your

first step has been taken. And Intel was very serious. But look at the offers

Intel has had from other coun­tries. In China, the government is ready to offer

land for the facility. In Israel, the government pitched in with 25 percent of

the investment. Obviously, they have similar expectations from India, but that

will not work in India given our political system. So, I think, real hardware

manu­facturing is still some way away.

 

Deepak Puri


Chairman, Moser Baer

On new plans for Moser

Baer



We are not de-risking our optical media business. We are one of the

strongest organizations in optical media and our focus will continue to be on

optical media. However, I think we have reac­hed a stage where we have to look

at other things also. As anno­­unced recently, Moser Baer will be looking at

solar photo-voltics seriously, as the next line of business. There is a lot of

synergy between that business and our existing one.

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On industry-academia

thrust and R&D thrust



I think we need to ramp up the industry-academia collaboration. Look at the

US. About 80 percent of students are funded to do R&D. In India, the depth

of knowledge is huge as high technology R&D is happening and is funded

largely by the government. I think the IITs are a hotbed of knowledge and we

have tied up with them. I am told that the projects are working out very well.

We have also tied up with various organizations across the world. It is like

following the Mughal example. The Mughals, in order to get entry into a new

region, would marry their daugh­ters to the local kings; appoint Vasirs; and

become part of the kingdom. We share technologies with these organizations,

which helps in bettering our products. We realized that there are areas we

needed to work on, in terms of new technology, and the IITs have been working on

them for the past 15 years. Given such rich knowledge base, I think the best way

for us was to partner with the IITs, rather than duplicate the effort. The

Indian tech institutes have   very enthusiastic students headed by brilliant

professors. I think partnering with them is a win-win situation for both.

On the Moser Baer

branded products



While we have introduced our own branded products in India with good

success, we are also planning to do the same in some countries in South Asia. As

we have taken a policy decision of not competing in markets where our principals

are strong brands, we are looking at some countries in South Asia.

On HD DVD and Blue Ray



I think there is an impasse right now. Both sides have invested heavily and

they are not going to give up easily. This is not a ques­tion of just standards

but million dollar investments in R&D, and, more importantly, billions in

expected revenues. Both these sides are well funded. I think that the way out of

the current im­passe is that both sides should come together and work out

common standards. However, until such time, the stalemate con­tinues. From

Moser Baer's pers­­pective, we are fabricators. Our job is not to be part of

the politics but to ensure that we are ready to roll out any or both tech­nologies

as and when the time comes. I think we will be produc­tion-ready in the first

quarter of 2006. Since we are part of the con­­sortium, we are working on the

specifications and also developing our own IPs. Right now it's a wait and

watch situation.

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