Chinese Smartphones in India – Explained

 

The Indian smartphone market is a booming atmosphere. Evolutions occur here on a daily basis, and the trends observed up until now in 2014 do hint at bigger and better things to come in the future – be it in the form of sheer processing capability, to increased memory capacity, to better camera sensors and improved multimedia features: smartphones in India are truly upping their game.

Smartphones In India – Upping Their Game

Now, let’s deviate from all the technical aspects for a bit, and focus on the major manufacturers. We have the usual suspects – Samsung, Apple, Sony, HTC, LG, Nokia and Blackberry. They’ve been around for a very long time, and have a popular consumer base in India, as is the case in most countries nowadays.

We also have indigenous players – Micromax, Karbonn, Xolo, Lava and Spice being the more popular ones; but if one were to delve deeper, a few more company names would pop up. The major USP of these OEMs is their ability to deliver decent specs at an extremely low price point – making them (especially Micromax) the undoubted consumer favourite in India.

But besides these two factions, another small group can be observed. Albeit inconspicuous in an environment teeming with global as well as indigenous manufacturers, this group has started making its presence felt in the last couple of months.

I’m talking about the Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

Lenovo, Huawei, Gionee and Oppo have already started paving a way for themselves in the Indian market. The former two have been around for quite a while now, with Lenovo establishing itself as a computer / laptop company primarily, and then introducing phones. Huawei has also made its mark by going head to head against the indigenous companies, by providing great features at affordable prices.

To be honest, Lenovo and Huawei phones don’t generally “stand out” in a place where other companies – especially the indigenous ones – have established themselves well. The factor of brand loyalty comes into play here, with a majority of the consumers opting for the more recognised companies which offer the same features at a similar price point.

Gionee and Oppo offer much more advanced features – targeting the consumer group that is hungry for high end specs. With pricing done competitively, it boils down to a matter of choice for the Indian masses.

So what’s the big deal?

Here’s what I’m really, really, excited about. Xiaomi and OnePlus.

First up, we have Xiaomi. Although it isn’t a popular brand name yet in India or the US, it is heralded as China’s very own Apple – with an impressive level of technological innovation. And by observing their Mi3 – a phone that is soon to be released in India – one can’t help but really fall in love with the kind of technology Xiaomi offers at such a low price point.

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A majority of the Indians look at the ’value-for-money’ factor in their smartphones, and Xiaomi delivers on this factor with ease.

OnePlus has been doing the rounds of the Internet for quite some while now, with their device – the OnePlus One being claimed to be a flagship killer. And with the specs being offered at the particular price point, very few would disagree. With a top of the line Snapdragon processor, great camera features, a vivid display and memory capacities that threaten to knock most phones out of the park – the OnePlus One has certainly caught the attention of all the tech fanatics out there.

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A major factor against OnePlus is undoubtedly, their logistics. With such abundant features and capabilities, one would expect OnePlus to go for aggressive marketing and partnerships with major retails stores. However, that is not the case (until recently), and the One mainly depends on an ‘invite’ system for people to own it.

Although OnePlus hasn’t been officially announced to make an appearance in India, with Xiaomi already on the verge of making an entry into the Indian market, we might just see OnePlus making its Indian debut in the coming future.

The hurdles for these companies.

These phones come with a plethora of features at a very affordable price point – good enough to woo the average Indian consumer. However, that being said, Chinese smartphone manufacturers will have to face some hurdles.

Firstly, there’s the competition from the global companies like Samsung, HTC and Sony. These manufacturers have established themselves well with the Indian audience, with elegant and world class phones with excellent customer support. After sales service goes a long way in bringing about brand loyalty, and in this regard, these companies fit the bill perfectly.

Secondly, there’s the indigenous crowd. Micromax for one has tasted immense popularity among the Indian masses. At a particular price bracket, the average consumers would prefer Micromax over a hitherto unknown Chinese manufacturer – regardless of the specs provided.

And finally, the smaller Chinese phone companies already existing in India have been associated with poor guarantee and questionable lifetime. In fact, the term “China phone” in India automatically brings about an image of a flashy device with pathetic quality, zero after sales support and no reliability.

The NEED OF THE HOUR for Chinese manufacturers.

Two words – effective marketing.

These companies already have excellent hardware and software specifications in their devices. When aided with a marketing strategy that aims at primarily reducing the inhibitions of the Indian populace towards Chinese phones, they will help in developing a consumer base which would in turn help promote their devices in the country – for the features first, then the company name.

The Chinese companies could use popular social media platforms to strengthen their base. They could also piggy back on major online retail firms that would have consumers viewing their products for what they are and what they have, as opposed to which company is delivering it.

Personally, I am looking forward to Chinese OEMs bringing their devices into the smartphone fray in India. It would compel other manufacturers to raise the bar in their devices, which would in turn bring about improved technology reaching the hands of the consumers.

So to all the Chinese companies making their presence felt, Nǐ hǎo, and all the very best!