Indian manufacturers are riding a high this year thanks to the immense number of sales in the budget smartphone market. The country is now the third largest smartphone market in the world, after the U.S. and China, and most of this is caused by the sheer number of devices being introduced in the country. Local manufacturers like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava have seen a tenfold increase in their sales, and are refining their manufacturing and distribution segments to bring out better devices to consumers faster. However, there have been a few inconsistencies along the way that might affect the local manufacturers adversely in the future.
Most of the sales accumulated by manufacturers were through devices that were priced very low. For instance, a huge chunk of Micromax’s sales can be attributed to devices like the Canvas 2 and Canvas HD. Both devices featured great hardware and were viable alternatives to devices from the likes of Samsung that cost twice as much. Similarly, Karbonn enjoyed a lot of success with the Titanium series.
As such, the budget segment can be defined as that market which includes devices which cost anywhere between Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 14,000, although there isn’t a clear demarcation. In fact, most international manufacturers have also started selling at least one device in this category. It is understandable considering the traction this category has been getting.
However, over the last few months, Micromax and Karbonn have not managed to build on the success they achieved earlier in the year. The launch of the Canvas 4 is a testament to this. The Canvas 4 was meant to be a major refresh to the Canvas HD. All rumours indicated to a 5-inch device that featured high-end hardware. However, the Canvas 4 turned out to be a huge let-down, as it basically included the same internal hardware as the Canvas HD, albeit with better cameras. Most Canvas 2 and Canvas HD users waiting to make the switch were left waiting in the cold. Similarly, Karbonn has made no major changes with its Titanium S9. With the Karbonn Titanium S5 price currently at Rs. 9,200, most users continue to buy the Titanium S5 over the S9.
Meanwhile, it has been rumoured that Chinese vendors like Meizu and Xiaomi are set to make their way into the Indian market. Meizu just unveiled the MX3 last week, and it features the same hardware as the Galaxy S4 and is available for about half of the cost. Xiaomi is also constantly making headlines, and has managed to attract talent from the likes of Google and Microsoft, the most notable of which is Hugo Barra, who was in charge of Android’s engineering team at Google. Xiaomi is known for being a manufacturer that focuses on design, and the end-result is clearly seen in its latest device, the Mi3.
The arrival of Chinese vendors into the Indian market would lead to an influx of great hardware at very affordable prices. This would significantly threaten the likes of Micromax and Karbonn, who cannot match the sheer manufacturing ability the Chinese vendors bring to the table. Gionee and Huawei are already in India, and while their offerings haven’t gotten as significant an attention as they would’ve liked, that is set to change in the coming months as they launch more devices in the market.