by Rishi Alwani, NDTV Gadgets

Motorola handsets

If you’re anything like us, then the first thing you ask when you hear about any new gadget is, “when will it be out in India?” With a few exceptions, most of the gadgets we’re excited about release a little (and sometimes a lot) later in India than in the West. This trend had started to wane, but in the last few years, delays are common again.

One of the reasons for this is that electronics now require mandatory certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards before they can be sold in India, and this process is often time consuming. The Department of Electronics, and Information Technology (DeitY), introduced a compulsory BIS certification requirement in 2012, which went into effect in 2013, for a huge number of gadgets including tablets.

Video game consoles were also affected, and the PlayStation 4 saw delays in India thanks to BIS certification. Atindriya Bose, India’s PlayStation head, confirmed that the newer 1TB PS4 consoles Sony has announced will come to India only around Diwali, due to the BIS.

The idea was to check the flood of low-grade products flooding India, and set a minimum standard of quality. In the process though, it also affected tablet sales adversely. Now, BIS certification is required for an even wider number of products, including smartphones. Adding mobile phones to this list could see certification get even slower and less predictable.

The number of smartphones being imported keeps growing

Indian hardware manufacturer’s association MAIT says that the smartphone sales have grown by 33 percent over the last year. As anyone who is watching the industry knows, there are several phones being launched every week, and even more phones are quietly being brought onto the market without any fanfare.

While the number of products is increasing dramatically, the BIS is a government organisation, and its manpower won’t grow to match this rise. Given how the BIS had troubles keeping up with a spate of tablets, will it be able to cope now in the face of a torrent of phones? Some worry that the added number of products that need certification will cause problems.

“Yes it would. Smartphones are our largest segment,” said a marketing executive at a consumer electronics company. “We’ve had to make changes to our forecasts keeping in mind possible delays in terms of certification.”

While we were not able to get a response from the BIS on this matter, a DeitY official told us off the record that he believes that companies are merely complaining because of the cost of testing. He also said that it was important to note that the reason for requiring BIS certification was to guarantee quality products in the market, and ensure the public’s safety from faulty chargers and gadgets that could overheat and even catch fire.

How will it work?

With the new DeitY rules, most new electronic devices now need BIS certification. After the Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012, laptops, desktops, video games…

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Excerpted with permission from NDTV.