Namaste, Moto! Indian TV Guy Wants Your Handset Business

Indian electronics maker Videocon has designs on Motorola’s ailing handset division, according to news reports. Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot says he’s heard that the U.S. mobile giant is going to put its wireless handset business up for sale, and if that happens, his company — well-known for making budget televisions and appliances — wants to buy it.

He wouldn’t be the first Indian industrialist with global ambitions. More recently, Tata bought out Ford Motors’ Jaguar and Land Rover business for $2.3 billion. Tata and its local rival Reliance have been on a buying binge for a while now, but buying a branded mobile phone maker would be a first for either of them.

“We will be bidding for Motorola’s handset business, but at this point of time I cannot give out the price or the value of the bid,” Dhoot told Dow Jones Newswires. He’s considering using Motorola as the centerpiece of his vertically integrated retail strategy: He already has the licenses to set up a mobile network in India and a network of 1,000 stores across the country — handsets could be the missing piece.

Given that India continues to be one of the fastest growing mobile markets — 251 million connections, at last count — this move shouldn’t come as a surprise. I have been hoping that the massive telecom buildout in India would spur a lot of local innovation and the formation of telecom/networking equipment startups.