As smartphone makers touch 150, where is the fight for consumers headed? . . . . By Nishant Arora
More than 150 smartphone makers are currently selling their brands in India and over 50 are from one country: China. The fight is slowly being shifted to the Rs 10,000-Rs 20,000 price range and the race to beat the rivals and become the highest-selling brand has become hot, really hot.
More than 20 mobile phone brands are now assembling their parts in India and according to recent reports, India has become the second-biggest smartphone market after US, crossing 220 million users.
So what are the new entrants looking into to woo the ever-demanding Indian consumer? Is it metal design, 4G compatibility, super-selfie camera, a fingerprint scanner or all of the above?
According to Atul Jain, COO, smart electronics business, LeEco India, Indians are looking for smartphones which have metal unibody, a good memory, great looks and, of course, camera.
“The trend is what entertainment they can get from their phones. What content — video, TV, songs — bundled with the smartphone can deliver to make life more entertaining. Pricing and affordability are also the key factors. People are looking for ‘my kind of prices,'” Jain told .
With aggressive marketing, Chinese LeEco has made deeper inroads within a short span of time of coming to India. Its Rs 10,999 device Le 1s Eco has broken several industry records and has become the highest-selling online smartphone brand.
“A new entrant like us has several unique things to offer. Our ecosystem, the disruptive pricing and our breakthrough technology — these are the things to take the share away from the existing players,” Jain adds.
“We also launched fingerprint scanner with 6H glass hardness which only flagship devices are able to offer. We are also the first to offer metal unibody in such pricing,” notes Jain.
Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Transsion Holdings unveiled its flagship brand itel with three smartphones and three feature phones variants in India in May. The SelfiePro, PowerPro and Wish series devices will be available at prices below Rs 10,000.
According to Sudhir Kumar, CEO, itel India, with the ongoing digital revolution there is an increasing demand for better features and enhanced functionality.
“We offer features such as a good-quality camera, longer battery life, stylish looks and a superb display that appeal to the user, while the powerful RAM ensures that the product delivers a seamless performance,” Kumar told .
No matter how competitive the market is, consumers will always look for products that offer better quality features.
“This behaviour allows us to disrupt the Indian market by providing value-added products. For example, we generally provide smartphones with a battery capacity of 2500 mAh within a price range where most of the others offer a battery capacity of 1800 mAh,” he says.
Ex-Apple India executive Sharad Mehrotra who quit the tech giant to establish his own handset company Hyve Mobility, thinks that bigger screen is still the best bet.
“Today, smartphones are primarily being used for lot of content consumption. So most of people I think really want a bigger screen. Next is 4G compatibility and faster speed that smartphone makers are currently looking at,” Mehrotra told .
“Design is a very special element and we have put in lot of efforts on the designing part on our flagship model which will be below Rs 15,000. There is a lot of ergonomics built around the phone,” he informs as Mehrotra gets ready to launch their flagship brand Hyve this month.
Can word-of-mouth publicity and a better product without massive marketing budget work?
“Both are important. You need to go for advertising and do regular online push. You need to provide regular phone updates and, at the same time, need to have word-of-mouth publicity too. But nothing can beat good customer service, a superbly working device at a reasonable price,” explains Jain.
For Kumar, the major focus is on the quality of the product. “Word of mouth works if your product’s quality and performance is superlative and if the penetration of the product is great. We would go after consumer touch points that’s what matters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malhotra aims to ride on the digital media. “I can’t afford to go overboard like a couple of rich players out there as we are a self-funded startup. We can’t be burning money on newspaper ads on a daily basis.”
“Let the product speaks for itself,” he adds.