As International vendors weigh, local producers redouble their efforts
by our Indian correspondent – Asif Shaik
Even just a year ago, dual SIM devices were exclusively manufactured by relatively unknown manufacturers seeking to gain a foothold in their home markets. That isn’t the case any longer. With a decline in the growth of the high-end market, it is the entry-level and mid-tier segments that handset manufacturers are now targeting. And they’re getting into dual SIM handsets big time as we saw during MWC week.
HTC is one such manufacturer which is betting big on dual-SIM devices.
After a tumultuous year, the Taiwanese manufacturer is refocusing its efforts on emerging markets and has since announced a host of devices that offer dual-SIM functionality.
Other manufacturers like Samsung and Sony are also entering the fray.
The availability of dual-SIM handsets from international vendors has caused local vendors to redouble their efforts.
For instance, Micromax, India’s largest handset manufacturer, was previously confined to devices in the budget segment.
However, with the arrival of international vendors and devices like the Galaxy S Duos, the Indian manufacturer has ventured into the mid-tier segment with handsets like the Canvas Turbo.
Devices in the entry-level segment regularly outsell those in the high-end segment in India by a factor of ten to one, and as such it makes sense for manufacturers to focus their energies in this segment.
In fact, HTC has announced earlier this month that one of the main reasons for its decline last year was because it did not launch decent mid-tier offerings.
HTC focused all its energies on the HTC One, and while the device was great, it was ultimately let down by its price.
HTC did launch a dual-SIM variant of the HTC One and took the single-SIM variant out of the market in a bid to cater to the high-end dual-SIM market.
However, its move backfired as the device saw lacklustre sales.
Microsoft has also recognised the demand for dual-SIM devices, and will be adding this functionality in the next major version of Windows Phone.
The first dual-SIM Windows Phone device will likely be the Lumia 630.
While dual-SIM devices do not see mainstream attention from consumers in the USA or the UK, this functionality is a must-have for most users in emerging markets like China and India.
A survey conducted by Neilsen in India found that most users that choose a dual-SIM device do so for the convenience it offers.
The Indian cellular ecosystem is divided into 22 zones (also called circles).
A number is limited to its zone, and using it outside its zone leads to higher tariffs.
Therefore, most users choose to use two different SIM cards, each belonging to its own circle.
Also, another reason for the increase in dual-SIM usage is that most carriers in India do not offer services in all regions.
In India Dual-SIM mobile prices (as MySmartPrice shows) are also starting to come down, thanks to the amount of rivalry that is seen in this segment amongst manufacturers.
Sony has unveiled its offerings in this segment, as have Samsung and LG.
In addition to the decreasing cost, manufacturers are starting to add more features.
Sub-$200 devices like the Moto G offer much more than what devices managed to do so even a year ago.
For instance, this time last year, Samsung launched the Galaxy S Duos in India.
The device had fairly sub-standard hardware and came with a 4-inch screen, 1 GHz processor, 768 MB RAM and 4 GB internal memory along with a 1,500 mAh battery.
In contrast, the Moto G, which costs the same as what the S Duos did when it launched, offers an HD screen, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB internal storage and a quad-core CPU.
The trend is not just limited to Motorola, as other manufacturers have also started including better hardware in their low-cost offerings.
What this means is that consumers have more than enough choice when selecting an affordable dual-SIM device.
With the Big International manufacturers entering this segment, the quality of devices will only get better.