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Will Micromax, Karbonn survive the Chinese onslaught?

Last updated on: February 04, 2014 12:53 IST

Will Micromax, Karbonn survive the Chinese onslaught?

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Sounak Mitra in New Delhi

They all have made their presence felt in the Chinese market during the past couple of years, pinching the smooth dominance of smartphone makers like Samsung and Apple. Some have even crossed Apple in terms of market share in China.

Now, they are targeting the world’s third largest smartphone market that has a 129 per cent growth in volume sales during the second quarter 2013.

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Photographs: Courtesy, OPPO

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Will Micromax, Karbonn survive the Chinese onslaught?

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A handful of Chinese smartphone makers are targeting India as their next growth market with killer devices in the Android platform.

Some of them like Lenovo, Huawei, Gionee, Konka and OPPO have already entered the market, while Xiaomi, which has already eaten into the US-based handset giant’s market share on home turf, is set to enter the estimated 25-30 million units per annum smartphone market soon.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Gionee

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Will Micromax, Karbonn survive the Chinese onslaught?

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Entry of Chinese smartphone makers, who sell handsets starting at Rs 3,000 to a premium one costing up to Rs 40,000, will have to compete with Indian handset makers like Micromax, Karbonn, Lava and Max Mobiles who have been trying to capture the entry to mid segment of the smartphone market costing up to Rs 25,000.

“Over the next few quarters, these Chinese brands may actually eat into the shares of the Indian brands,” said an analyst with a market research firm in India.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Micromax

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According to market insiders, a consortium of 45 Chinese brands, including Zopo, UMI, JiaYu, Mogu, Iocean, Meizu, to tap the world’s fastest growing smartphone market which has a very low penetration compared to China and the United States - the world’s top two smartphone markets, said a consultant currently working with a couple of these brands to facilitate their entry into Indian market.

The strategy is to flood the market with endless choices to consumers with products that come with high-end hardware, and good experience.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Meizu

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One thing is common - they all hire Bollywood stars to endorse their products, and the target segment is youth who spend at least a couple of hours on their handsets using smart applications, beyond making calls and messages.

The latest entrant in the market is Oppo, which has launched its flagship N1 priced at Rs 39,999, last week, has got on board Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan and Sonam Kapoor to endorse its products.

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Photographs: Courtesy, OPPO

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Will Micromax, Karbonn survive the Chinese onslaught?

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Gionee, which has entered the market about 10 months back, has got Farhan Akhtar as brand ambassador for Aqua series. Lenovo, which started selling smartphones in 2012, has Ranbir Kapoor as the brand ambassador.

But, the main Chinese brands are focusing more on experience than pricing. “Price is not the key for smartphones. We’re trying to tell consumers that it is not about price, but it is about performance in terms of display and other features, which many handsets lack,” said Arvind Vohra, India Head, Gionee Smartphones.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Gionee

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Huawei has earlier said that it would have nearly 250 experience zones in India to push sales. Most of the Chinese smartphone sellers sell about 2-3 lakh units a month across India on an average, in cities and semi-urban markets.

Tom Lu, Director and CEO, OPPO Mobiles India, said: “The underlying product philosophy behind OPPO’s international success and reputation is our emphasis on something very simple i.e. ‘experience’. I see a wonderful future for both OPPO India and our partners and the formation of a healthy and long-term association focused on progress and growth.”

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Photographs: Courtesy, Huawei

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Market analysts, however, said that while Chinese smartphone makers will eat into the shares of the big guys in India, the dominance is unlikely to change soon.

According to a Canalys report, India’s smart-phone market has grown 129 per cent in the September 2013 quarter, while the growth rates in China were 108 per cent and globally about 50 per cent.

The top five smartphone vendors in India include Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn, Sony and Nokia, it added.


Photographs: Courtesy, Karbonn

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