Affordable smartphones: Redefining mobile phone market

May 29 2014, 13:47 IST
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Today, there are plenty of options for a potential phone buyer to select smartphones in the price range of Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000. Today, there are plenty of options for a potential phone buyer to select smartphones in the price range of Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000.
SummaryGone are the days when smartphones were considered a luxurious possession.

Gone are the days when smartphones were considered a luxurious possession, as handsets with advanced functions and user-friendly applications, are now available at affordable prices in India. Today, there are plenty of options for a potential phone buyer to select smartphones in the price range of Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000, which a few years ago was considered next to impossible.

This unforeseen change in the smartphone market has been made possible because of two reasons—the first being that the

demand for affordable smartphones with unique applications is growing at a phenomenal pace coupled by the fact that mobile phone penetration in India is yet to reach half the population. Also, now first time phone buyers have the option of selecting from a wide range of smartphones.

Secondly, unlike in the developed countries where mobile phone penetration has reached the saturation level, Indian telecom operators are offering attractive incentives, in the manner of low tariff and pre-paid package, to bring more number of people under the subscriber base. This offers an interesting proposition to mobile handset makers.

According to a report released by IDC, India smartphone market almost tripled its shipments year over year in the second quarter of 2013 Q2 (2Q13). The research firm reported that vendors shipped a total of 9.3 million smartphones in 2Q13 compared to 3.5 million units in the same period of 2012. 2Q13 grew by more than 50% over the units shipped in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13).

Though different mobile companies occupy the top 5 market share for smartphones in India, Lenovo smartphones sees strong demand for its devices, which

differentiate on a larger turf from the competition on several unique aspects.

Clearly there are two sets of consumers of smartphones in India. The first set is the urban consumer, who wants the best of the apps, such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin on their screen. They also prefer a wider screen and camera options. If the phone has an Android operating system, it is easy to download and use all the apps from Google play store.

The second set of consumers is the subscribers from rural areas for whom camera, music player, video player, and FM radio are essential. Nowadays, taking into consideration such subscribers as a huge customer base, service providers are offering downloads of popular film songs, in all regional Indian languages, at negligible prices, and in the process enabling rich content flow on the network. Handset makers have to also factor in the fact that power supply to rural areas in India is so erratic that recharging the battery of smartphones is a challenge in the villages. Consequently, the battery life has to

be longer and it has to support a variety of applications.

All these prerequisites of consumers have today redefined the smartphone category in India. Handset makers have to come out with devices that can serve the purpose of both urban and rural consumers. Another key factor for success of a handset is the user-friendly interface. Touchscreen phones have now gained precedence over handsets with physical keyboard, both in the urban and rural markets.

An important aspect, which is integral to all these, are the prices of a handset. A college student or a farmer may not be in a position to possess the latest smartphone priced in excess of $200. Therefore, it becomes imperative for handset makers to have market-capturing strategies.

Lenovo smartphones entered the Indian market only after studying all these differentiating aspects, be it the consumer mind set, user categories, the growing subscriber base, the preferences of the urban and rural markets, or the price consciousness. Today, Lenovo offers the widest range of smartphones at highly affordable prices, which suits all categories of customers in India. The biggest differentiator of Lenovo smartphones is the longer battery life, which no other competition in the market can boast of.

Changing the concept of ‘budget’ phones in India, the new ‘A’ series smartphones from Lenovo are equipped with most advanced features in this segment. Equipped with a dual-SIM feature, the entire range gives users the power of two phones in one. In addition to this, the new phones offer all the entertainment and social features such as camera, music and internet.

The smartphone market in India is undergoing a rapid metamorphosis in terms of consumer preference. For instance, dual SIM phones in smartphones were unimaginable a few years ago. But now, dual SIM smartphones have become ubiquitous. This should be a pointer to the changing dynamics of the smartphone market in India.

- Sudhin Mathur

(The writer is director—smartphones, Lenovo India)

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