Over the last half decade the Android revolution has hit the smartphone market globally. Humans are more connected and empowered with the help of these tiny computers in their pocket. For a country like India where Mobile is the default computer for most population this has had a larger impact. And that meant the global giants like Samsung, HTC, Sony etc didn’t fully explore and exploit the smartphone market here. Giving an opening to local players like Micromax, Lava, Karbonn, Intex etc to innovate and give valuable offerings to the masses.
Over the years the Indian local brands have strengthened their positions in the market. Armed with Mediatek powered Android phones, jazzy UI tweaks often made by a third party and most importantly the pricing advantage!
Major smartphone players like HTC, Sony and Samsung never considered MediaTek chipsets for their smartphones. Also the software customizations were global and didn’t connect with the Indian audience which loved customizing. Local players used this to their advantage to make smartphones in the sub Rs. 10,000 segment which the bigger players had completely ignored.
Android, being an open platform offered the same potential to everyone to make a good product. Hence companies just had to build their custom UI on top of it. Chinese smartphone makers have built a whole lot of customization options for their phones. Right from EMUI on Honor phones to the MIUI on the Xiaomi devices, the number of tweaks that a user can do is countless. Xiaomi has also launched India Specific themes and features in their latest updates.
Android commoditised the software, China commoditised the hardware. As most of the production of smartphones is in China, the cost of making these smartphones are significantly lower. When Apple introduced the Touch ID, it was a trend every premium smartphone would follow. Now two years later, It’s easy to find a phone with fingerprint sensor priced below Rs 10,000.
Over the past few years historically much lesser know Chinese phone makers have set their eyes on Indian turf. Developing markets have a huge demand for smartphones as the populations is slowly shifting from feature phones. While Asia is the target for these manufacturers, India is definitely high priority. A recent report by Counterpoint Research also shows that India is now the second largest smartphone market with 220 million active users. With Samsung Mobile still holding the top spot, Indian player Micromax in second and Lenovo coming third.
Aggressive brand building and new marketing techniques have helped these brands to grab some serious eyeballs. The flash sale model that Xiaomi introduced in India made their products hard to get but also highly desirable. The invite system used by OnePlus also had a similar effect, with people inquiring about invites helps spread the word about the brand. Some of these brands are well funded and don’t think twice before opening the taps for advertising. The recent being the brand LeEco (formerly LeTV) which were very aggressive in advertising the Le1s smartphone. 2016 may well end up being the year when Chinese smartphone makers end up with a dominant position in Indian smartphone market.