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Can Indian Mobile Phone Makers Ever Be In The Top Position in terms of Market Share & Sales?

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I don’t know whether digital India & Make in India campaign has any effect on the mobile sales, but the Chinese brands seem to be killing our Indian brands. Exactly three years back I wrote an article on how local Indian mobile phone makers have started dominating the mobile Industry in India. It was the time when there were no Chinese brands that have the ability to give competition to the then top mobile brands in the world like Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC, etc. In India, it was local mobile brands like Micromax, Cellkon, Karbonn, etc. which have dominance in the Indian mobile industry.

As already explained the reason in the article, our Indian users started using an Android smartphone for the first time, and this made every brand to adapt the same, and make budget-end smartphones. Yeah, It was our mobile brands who started the trend! Before the launch of budget-end Android smartphones, our Indian mobile phone makers were concentrating more on feature phones [even now]. It was also the time when Chinese brands came up with their Java-based phones showing different UIs [mimicing iPhone, Galaxy smartphones] and sold it for a price tag of Rs. 3k – 5K. At first, everything was smooth, as they are touch screen phones, and have the capability of using two SIMs & a microSD card.

These unnamed Chinese brands perished quickly as of cheap build quality, radiation effects, etc. It made every Indian user to ditch them and move to other brands like Samsung, LG & Sony. It was the time when Indian mobile phone makers like Micromax, Karbonn, Spice, Intex, etc. came up with their budget-end smartphones and revolutionized the mobile industry in India.

Rise of Indian Mobile Phone Makers –

image courtesy: networkindia.com

The canvas series from Micromax is a such a huge hit, as every college-going has started using it. The other smartphone series like Karbonn Smart [Titanium], Cellkon’s Campus series, Intex Aqua series, etc. have seen significant growth in the sales. The main reason for the sudden rise is a simple strategy that our Indian mobile phone makers followed.

I believe, the not so popular Chinese brands gave this idea. If you remember, the unnamed Chinese-brand smartphones have the specifications of 5-6′ inch in screen size, a touch-screen, [+ stylus], dual SIM and microSD. These smartphones were priced at just Rs. 5K. Forget the OS and build quality, as not everyone was aware of phones & stuff at that time. So, if you see the smartphones launched by Indian mobile phone makers [3 years back], they have all these specifications running on Android OS with an excellent build quality. Even the price range was within the budget of 7K.

This simple strategy led to the sudden rise of Indian mobile phone makers. Well, there was no consistency in the growth as of several reasons like not able to provide updates on time, aftersales support, competitors offering better specifications for the same price tag, etc.

Fall of Indian Mobile Phone Makers:

I bet you are familiar with the phrase – What goes up must come down! This phrase suits perfectly for our Indian mobile phone manufacturers. They were not able to continue the same growth even before the Asian brands entering the Indian mobile market. The first and the most obvious reason is not able to update with the current trend.

Firstly, they were nowhere near to the competition of iPhones as even in 2016, some of the Indian mobile brands are launching smartphones with a 4/8GB internal memory. You can say, this is by far the first reason for the downfall.

As already mentioned, the aftersales support is terrible. Though the majority of these smartphones are made in India; most of the brands were not able to provide replacements for the broken smartphones on time.

Xiaomi Mi3

While the Indian mobile brands were struggling to provide a better service, it was the time when the Chinese brand – Xiaomi, better known as ‘The Apple of China’ entered the Indian mobile market with its flagship phone Mi3. I still remember writing about it, as the phone has completely changed the way online marketing can be done. It was the first phone in India that was sold exclusively in an e-commerce website, and the very first brand to introduce flash sales concept to India. It was also the reason for the downfall of Indian mobile brands as they could not live up to the new trend.

Though Micromax came up with a new sub-brand ‘Yu,’ but it hasn’t shown significant impact on the sales. The phone is better known as ‘the heater’ which devasted the brand name. On the other side, the other brands like Karbonn, Intex, Spice, Videocon, etc. were busy in launching the same old smartphones with an internal memory of 4-8GB, while Xiaomi was able to gain popularity with its Redmi Note series.

Q4 2016 – Indian smartphone market share

Slowly, Indian mobile brands swept away from the smartphone category and got stuck to the feature phones. Several other Chinese brands like OnePlus, Meizu, Oppo, Vivo, etc. entered the Indian market and started showing their dominance. The Q4 2016 market share showed that Indian mobile brands are completely lost their dominance as none of them had a position in the top 5 and was entirely occupied by Chinese brands.

Future of Indian Mobile Phone Makers:

As far as I remember, Indian mobile brands have tried every possible way to stay with the competition. They even launched the very first Android One smartphone, but it hasn’t added anything to the sales.

The main difference between the Indian mobile brands & the foreign brands can be seen in their marketing strategies. Most of the Chinese brands use aggressive marketing in promoting their products. They even contact influencers to promote their products, which is yet another form of word of mouth marketing. If Indian mobile brands want to see their former glory, then they should concentrate on the following –

  • Firstly, no one is interested in buying a smartphone with very less internal memory. So, upgrading the internal memory to 32GB will be an asset
  • Build quality plays a significant role, and R&D on design is crucial as other brands influence most of the smartphone’s design. So, to stay ahead, R&D on design & showing innovation is essential
  • Pricing is the USP, and it’s a fact. Every brand should keep this in mind while deciding the price tag. If you see, other brands are launching phones with better specifications for the best price tag. So, to be in the competition, Indian mobile brands should show the disruption in the pricing
  • Marketing plays a significant role, but following the same old strategy won’t show any effect as users are fed up with the flash sales, invite-based sales. So, a creative marketing plan can always win the users’ hearts
  • Finally, the after-sales support. Most of the Chinese brands are known for poor service after sales, so to win the top position again, Indian brands should concentrate majority on after-sales too

These are the basic things our brands should follow at least to stay with the competition. I guess one day, our local Indian mobile brands will rise to the top position again. Hope it comes true soon. Future always changes and the prediction may go wrong, but hope can keep the dream alive. 🙂

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