Indian mobile phone manufacturer Lava International plans to target the sub-10k market segment while also investing in research and development (R&D) of new and unique designs and features for its phones to take on its competitors. According to Lava’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Sunil Raina, the company, perhaps the only one from India to design and manufacture mobile phones in China, invested in an R&D centre in Shenzhen quite early on in its journey to ensure it does not disappear from the scene in a few years but “establishes itself as one of the leading global players in the technology space”.
The 700-strong team of engineers — mostly Chinese, but a fair number of them Indians — in the facility here focuses on undertaking key design processes, including hardware design and engineering, mechanical design, industrial design as well as software development for its Android-based smartphones and feature phones. “Opportunities come to countries, companies and people. Now the opportunity is travelling to India, which will also create opportunities for businesses and brands to become global players,” Raina told this visiting IANS correspondent.
He added that at a certain point of time, opportunities come for global brands to emerge from a country — as it happened with Google and Facebook in the US, Sony in Japan, Samsung and LG in South Korea, and Huawei and Oppo in China. “If and when that happens, we are doing everything possible to make sure we are one of them” by focusing on product experience, purchase experience, communication experience and after-sales service experience, he said.
Lava’s current products sell in India and in Southeast Asian and African countries.Raina said its new products from this China facility will be able to give fair competition to global brands. Interestingly, Chinese players have been rapidly increasing their market share in the Indian market, with local players Micromax Informatics, Lava International and Karbonn Mobiles losing their place among the top-five mobile brands to Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo. In the first quarter of 2017, the market share of Chinese mobile phone manufacturers was about 51 per cent.
Raina said that Lava sees an opportunity in the sub-Rs 10,000 segment of the market, where it currently has an 11 per cent market share. “We want to dominate the sub-10k segment by acquiring over 50 per cent of the market share and that is why you would see most of our upcoming new phones targeted at this segment,” he said, adding that these phones would offer features of high-end mobile phones at a lower price point.
Deepak Mahajan, Vice President-Product at Lava International, said in the current scenario, at least one Indian company had the possibility of becoming a truly multinational giant in the mobile phone space and his company hoped to occupy that slot. “We have a very large domestic market; we have a strong leadership focused on bringing design, R&D and manufacturing to India; and the costs of manufacturing in China are now getting higher compared to India. It is only a matter of time,” Mahajan explained.
“The fact that, unlike our competitors, we are designing our phones from scratch — and that we have our own hardware designs — gives us an edge,” he added.
On an average, Lava develops about eight smartphones and three feature phones per year at its China facility, said Gaurav Nigam, Senior Vice President and Head of Product. While the company has set up its R&D facility in China, its India-based Design Centre has also kicked off operations and will start rolling out its products by the end of this year, Nigam said.