Smaller phone cos gear up for 3G wars

Written by Nikita Upadhyay | Nikita Upadhyay | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 11 2011, 03:48am hrs
Smaller handset brands like Lava, Intex, G-Five and Karbonn, who gave a tough competition to international brands like Nokia and Samsung last year, are now gearing up for the upcoming 3G opportunity in India. These smaller brands are promising not just 3G enabled handsets packed with innovative features, but also phones at a much lower price. Most of these brands will be launching 3G-enabled handsets by the end of this quarter.

Private telecom operators like Tata Docomo and Reliance Comm have already launched 3G services and others are expected to launch them shortly. This will spur the demand for 3G handsets. 3G handsets will be a priority for us. Due to the low price of our handsets, our margins continue to be under pressure, but the volumes more or less help offset this. To start with, we will be introducing two 3G models in the market by this quarter, said Sudhir Kumar, AGM-telecom, Intex Technologies.

While high-end 3G phones from big international brands with features like push email, bluetooth, music player, wi-fi and a camera of more than 3 mega pixels would cost Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, a similar phone with smaller players is likely to cost between Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000. Although the lowest range of 3G enabled handset with Nokia or Samsung costs only around Rs 4,000, they would be lacking in features like video recording, good camera and adequate memory.

We will be introducing a full suite of 3G enabled handsets be it bar phone, qwerty, full touch or Android handsets. Feature phone market is now heading towards 3G and smartphones, said Shashin Devsare, executive director, Karbonn Mobiles. SN Rai, co founder & director, Lava International, feels that prices of 3G services should come down for mass acceptance, below the $100 range.

The total handset market in India is expected to be around 175 million units in the year 2010 and in 2011, it is bound to grow by 20%. 3G handsets will be almost 18% of the total Indian handset market in the year 2011. Last year, these small handset players proved their capability in terms of providing reliable and feature rich phones at affordable prices. Once they introduce their 3G handsets, they are bound to be competitively priced than the other bigger brands, said Anshul Gupta, principal analyst, Gartner.