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How can Indian mobile companies overtake Chinese smartphone brands?

Created on 02 Apr 2020

Wraps up in 5 Min

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Updated on 08 Oct 2020

The latest statistics reveal that India stands as the second-largest mobile market, a notch ahead of the US with over 400 million smartphone users. While our neighbor China stands as the leader in terms of the number of users. These statistics are enough to give us an estimate of what a huge market India poses to all Mobile phone manufacturers. It is with this background that we have seen the influx of global brands making a mark in the Indian market. The Chinese smartphone brands were quick to infuse the Indian market with their smartphone brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, Realme, Oneplus.

With the  ‘Make In India’ initiative, Chinese companies have been acquiring or venturing with the Indian mobile manufacturers and giving a tough competition to the local smartphone brands. This is a wake-up call for Indian smartphone companies, as India is becoming a favorite destination for mobile manufacturing by Chinese mobile companies after its home country. The Chinese mobile manufacturers have witnessed a saturation in their domestic market and the current demand of its domestic consumers is sophisticated and complex to fulfill. Hence, they have started capturing the international markets since the beginning of an economic slowdown. 

The Growth of Chinese brands in India

 The penetration of Chinese companies in the Indian smartphone market has been easy as both countries have similar market structures. India as a distribution market has turned into an easy expansion opportunity with the help of major e-commerce players. Both India and China share the same 4G frequency bands of 1800MHz and 2300MHz, which has allowed Chinese smartphone makers to bring their latest products to India as no additional frequency bands modifications are required. This implies that any Chinese 4G smartphone with support for the English language can be easily used in India without any issue. The competitive pricing, aggressive marketing strategies, and faster adoption of the 4G technology of Chinese companies are driving sustained growth in the Indian market. Moreover, the integration of high-end specifications, provision of good cameras, and sophisticated designs within a budget mobile are making the Chinese smartphones even more attractive to the Indian consumer. 

How are Indian brands dealing with it? 

Micromax is the only native smartphone maker who is safeguarding the Indian front of the Chinese counterparts. To tackle the severe competition, Micromax launched its Yu smartphone brand which sports the 'Made in India’ banner on it. However, other prominent Indian mobile brands like Lava, Spice, Karbonn, and iBall have failed to garner the appreciation both in Indian as well as other markets. The key reasons being the market restrictions faced by the Indian mobile makers as well as the sub-standard quality, the reluctance to provide updated firmware and seedy circuits. While the Chinese counterparts are offering innovation, quality, and expertise in their products which have put them at an advantage over its Indian rivals. The smartphone segment is dominated by Chinese smartphones like the Huawei P30 Pro,  Xiaomi Mi5, OnePlus 3T, and Vivo V5 Plus. While most of the Indian smartphone makers are stuck on the sub-5k segment. Micromax, with its Yu brand, ventured into the affordable flagship space by keeping the prices in the sub-12k range. Even the Indian start-ups like Sachin Tendulkar’s funded Smartron and Creo had tried to draw attention in flagship space, they are yet to taste their share of success. 

How deep have the Chinese penetrated Indian shores?

According to the latest report from IDC’s, Xiaomi has continued its number one spot with the highest market share in the Indian smartphone market. The second spot was captured by Samsung followed by Vivo, Realme and Oppo shared the later spots respectively. Surprisingly, no Indian company figures in the top 5 list.

Where should Indian brands focus to regain its market share? 

There are a few measures that the Indian mobile makers can utilize to create new opportunities for themselves. The low penetration of smartphones in the average Indian family is where the Indian makers need to focus on. They can offer feature-rich smartphones to spur their growth. Moreover, most Chinese smartphone makers lack good after-sales service and support. This is where Indian makers can seize the opportunity to gain market control. Most of the Indian brands rely on an offline distribution network, whereas the Chinese brands are collaborating with the online retailers to provide exclusive deals with them. Indian companies can reach out to online stores and offer attractive deals to gain popularity and market share. Offering the latest in technology in a smartphone is another area that the Indian smartphone makers can take cognizance of. For instance, providing the latest trends in features like the dual rear camera, AR and VR compatibility within an affordable price range will change the course of the game in favor of our Indian brands. 

To stay afloat, Indian companies have also looked at alternative products and markets before they are doused with the competition. Micromax Informatics has started manufacturing LED televisions and tablets. Karbonn Mobiles apart from manufacturing smartphones, tablets and mobile phone accessories has ventured into new markets and made their presence felt in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Lava International has expanded its markets in  Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Lava also owns the Xolo brand with an Intel processor and launched Windows Phone operating system and Android Lollipop smartphones with 4G-enabled smartphones and dual camera. Intex Technologies also ventured into the LED TV business. Best IT World India consumer electronics company is known as iBall, mostly imports computer peripherals and steered into the business of Laptop and Smartphones with collaboration with Intel and Microsoft.

Conclusion 

The Indian smartphone industry is surging in its growth year on year, but still, the domestic makers are in a difficult situation at present. Apart from competition from the Chinese, the other international smartphone brands like Apple and Samsung are also taking away the opportunities available to the home brands. It will take longer for the Indian Mobile makers to regain the market share, they will surely find ways to survive in the highly competitive market, as reinvention is the name of the game.

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Bernadine

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An MBA Finance graduate, having worked in the Telecom and Banking sector as a Risk and Compliance Manager. An avid blogger with a penchant for traveling

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