Our Indian correspondent ponders Indian vs Chinese mobile brands
Indian mobile phone brands have been enjoying a very good market share since the advent of Android smartphones. The Android operating system has given them a huge boost. So it did for dozens of manufacturing companies in China who assemble devices at cheap rates. Combine this with aggressive marketing and vast product line-up in entry-level and mid-range price segment & you get impressive sales volume. Micromax, Karbonn and Lava combined, account for 18 per cent of mobile phone market share in India, as per the latest reports from CyberMedia Research. According to IDC, another analyst firm, India will become the third largest smartphone market by 2017. A lot of brands are aiming to tap the potential market in India with hopes of good growth and market share.
Some Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, Gionee and Huawei are getting hugely popular around the world these days.
One more important thing is, a Chinese consumer mind is very similar to the an Indian consumer’s mind.
If they are able to eat a large chunk of marketshare from Apple and Samsung, they can replicate that here as well.
They are popular thanks to value for money factor, outside of any legal contracts. But these are also the same factors which make Indian smartphone buyers opt for devices from Micromax and Karbonn.
These Chinese brands have more to them that may make Indian brands sweat. Here are five things that Chinese smartphone brands offer better when compared to devices from Indian smartphone brands.
Pick up any phone from the brands such as Xiaomi or Oppo and you’ll find their design and build quality to be much better than any devices sold by Indian brands.
They come in a wide range of colour options and are even slimmer and lighter. No device from Indian brands have such variety of colors or the kind of build quality that makes you go “Wow”.
As the Chinese brands have their own manufacturing plants, there is no middle man to fed to, resulting in cheaper priced devices.
Take for example, the Gionee Elife E3 which is getting very popular in spite of no television or print media marketing, sells for the same price as the Xolo Q1000 and much lesser than the Micromax Canvas 4 See on MySmartPrice.com, but is much better performer in comparison.
It even looks better, feels lighter and slimmer in comparison to any other smartphone from local brand. All these brands will launch devices in exactly the same price range where all the local brands focus, ie below INR 20,000.
Even the quality of packaging and accessories offered are better when you buy devices from Lenovo, ZTE, Huawei and Gionee.
The most important aspect about a smartphone is its operating system and user interface.
The software and UI found on the devices from the likes of Micromax and Karbonn are often close to stock Android with addition of a lot of badly designed icons and crapware.
On the other hand, devices from Gionee and Xiaomi offer heavily modified yet smooth performing user interfaces.
They even offer a lot of customisation options such as themes, wallpapers and custom icons. Even the quality of software optimisation is much better in comparison.
Phones like Gionee Elife series offer Dolby Digital Sound enhancements for headphone listening.
The most important thing is the software upgrades. Not a lot of devices from local brands have received the software updates, be it bug fixes, feature additions or the newer version of operating system.
On the other hand, these well-known Chinese brands offer constant software upgrades.
These brands have much better and aggressive plans to expand internationally as a brand. Huawei has invested around $265 million as a marketing and brand building budget in India.
Lenovo on the other hand, spent around $700 million to build a facility capable of producing around 40 million smartphones annually.
Recently, Xiaomi has been valued at more than $10 Billion, which is more than the valuation of Lenovo, who is the largest PC maker in the world.
Even Android’s VP Hugo Barra left his job to join Xiaomi and he will head over the international expansion plans for Xiaomi.
Coolpad, yet another Chinese brand has been busy in launching Android Nation stores around India in partnership with Spice and Google.
In general observation, Indian consumers are cribbing about the quality and quantity of service centers of Indian brands.
On the other hand, Chinese brands like Gionee has larger number of service centers and it should not be a tough task to offer better quality service in comparison.
The launch of Chinese smartphones brands in India has opened up a fierce competition between international, Indian and Chinese brands which is the best thing to happen to Indian consumers in a long time.