Influx of local smartphones is troubling Big Brands in emerging markets

Local mobile brands curry favour with Indian consumers
by our Indian correspondent, Asif Shaik

Spice Mobile

Since the inception of Android, we have seen dozens of new smartphone brands emerge. Some of the most popular new brands are Xiaomi in China, Micromax in India, Smartfren in Indonesia, Ninetology in Malaysia and Tecno Mobiles in African countries. Combined, all these local brands are providing tough competition to established international players like Samsung and Apple – especially in emerging markets. Neglecting the importance of dual SIM smartphones has cost international brands a huge chunks of their emerging markets share. In India we’ve also seen the dominance of the ‘local spice’ mobile phone makers.

India is predicted to become third largest smartphone market by 2017, according to IDC.

The company says Micromax, Karbonn, Xolo and Spice Mobile together have shipped more than half of all smartphones sold in India – a BRIC country with such a huge potential. (Go here for  Spice Mobile pricing).

Micromax has signed up famous Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman as its brand ambassador.

The company is following Samsung’s strategy of releasing dozens of smartphone models each year, but at half the price of similarly spec’ed smartphone models from Samsung, HTC and Sony.

On the other hand, Xolo is banking on better designs, powerful processors and 4G LTE integration in its future smartphones.

Xolo has partnered with all major SoC (system on a chip) suppliers such as Intel, Nvidia, Broadcom, MediaTek and Qualcomm.

Many would consider Tecno Mobiles as local African brand but the company is actually operating out of Hong Kong.

It has experienced constant sales drive from their dual SIM smartphones. It has now stands as the second largest mobile phone brand in Nigeria and top dual SIM mobile phone brand in the entirety of Africa.

Tecno is now targeting further customer growth amongst Nigerian youth and rising middle class population in Africa of more than 100 million.

The company’s  USP being pre-loaded multimedia content and handsets priced as low as N30,000 (below $200).

Most of these brands operating in African countries are thriving to provide decent quality hardware and along with mobile internet packages, pre-loaded applications and multimedia downloads to consumers.

Solo, yet another smartphone brand is counting their advantage in providing multimedia streaming service which enables downloading of local movies and music within 2-3 minutes (in collaboration with iRokoTV).

Solo is also bundling social media  and social networking applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

If you have a look at flagship products from all these brands, it is not hard to notice that they are all powered by same processor and operating systems with difference only in camera, battery capacity and screen sizes.

With some of the major brands such as HTC and Blackberry drowning, it appears that the key of success lies in providing decent quality hardware (if not great) with large screens, bundled Internet connectivity packages, pre-loaded apps and easily downloadable content at rock bottom prices.

If consumer needs in emerging markets fall on deaf ears, then international brands could lose even more market share to newer brands like Xiaomi, Micromax and Tecno Mobiles.

About Asif Shaik

Asif Iqbal Shaik is a consumer electronics expert and computer science graduate turned technology Blogger. Asif is obsessed with gadgets, games, internet and technology brands. He is known as ‘gadget guru’ amongst his friends. He works for the Indian mobile phone price comparison web site, MySmartPrice.com.
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