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Indian handset makers eye new shores

Last updated on: July 8, 2011 14:05 IST

Indian handset makers eye new shores

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Pradeesh Chandran in Bengaluru

After taking wallet share away from global mobile giants such as Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson and others, Indian handset manufacturers are now eyeing foreign markets.

Karbonn Mobiles, Intex, Lava, Micromax and Maxx Mobile are among the brands that have entered markets in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, West Asia and Africa.

Karbonn, the joint venture between the Delhi-based Jaina Group and the Bangalore-based UTL Group, was the first 'Made in India' brand to explore abroad.

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Image: Mobile handsets.

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To target these regions, it also invested in a branding strategy. For instance, it sponsored Cape Cobras, an African cricket team, as part of the Champions League.

The efforts seems to be paying. Karbonn is the number two brand in Nepal, after Samsung.

"We are bullish about the market opportunity in some of the markets.

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Photographs: Reuters
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"The African continent is another market we are looking at. We are now a familiar brand in two African countries and have received interest from a couple of other countries.

"We are in the process of getting a certificate from the governments in these countries for selling our products," said Biju Menon, head of business.

The company claims to sell 600,000-750,000 phones a year in India.

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Image: A Micromax handset.

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Players, who have entered the foreign market believe customers in Nepal and Bangladesh are similar to Indian users, looking for maximum bang to each rupee.

However, those in Africa look for style and cost.

Maxx Mobile, which sells phones in Dubai and Bangladesh, believes these markets will fuel its growth in future.

"The business is slowly picking up. But the potential available for growth in these emerging markets is huge," said Ajay Agarwal, chairman and managing director.

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Image: Spice mobiles.

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Intex Technologies has entered Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and plans to enter Africa.

The company sells 150,000 phones a year in India, manufacturing its phone in China.

To increase penetration in some markets, players are also entering into joint marketing strategies.

For example, Intex has tied up with CityCell in Bangladesh for a bundle offer.

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Image: Intex handset.
Photographs: Courtesy: Intex
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"We sell in these markets through our distributor channels and are exploring other partnership models to increase our share in the new markets," said Ramesh A Vaswani, executive vice-chairman, Intex.

According to a recent survey by telecom industry journal Voice & Data, revenues in the Indian mobile handset market grew 15 per cent to touch Rs 33,171 crore (Rs 331.71 billion) in 2010-11 from Rs 28,897 crore (Rs 288.97 billion) a year before.

It also revealed that global players such as Nokia had lost market share in low-end segments to home-grown handset makers like Micromax, Karbonn and Spice.


Image: Mobile handsets.

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