How can Indian smartphone makers compete with global biggies?

By Naresh Keshavwar

india-smartphoneThe smartphone industry is one of the rapidly changing industries in the world. You blink and you have a new phone with some insane specifications or you see a new software update that makes you go ‘WOW.’

Till not so long ago, this space was largely dominated by a few global players. But in the last couple of years, we have seen a huge inflow of home-grown phone manufacturers, who have come out aggressively with their own devices packing decent features in affordable pricing.

I must admit that some of these Indian manufacturers have made a mark for themselves and have even managed to get their own fan-following. But that’s not the case with every phone manufacturer out there.

People still prefer global brands and don’t hesitate in paying a premium for the same. But, why?

1. Build Quality: This is one area where the Indian smartphone manufacturers lag behind the global players. Seriously, when you look at build quality of phones like HTC One X or Nokia Lumia phones, you can’t stop but keep staring at them. The industrial design, the finesse and the build quality offered by these devices is second to none.

But, same is not true for the home-grown manufacturers. If we look back at the devices launched by Indian manufacturers, they just can’t stand next to these devices. The so-so build quality, the plasticy feel – it stays with you.  I know the price point at which these devices are available and we can’t expect them to compete with One X or Lumia but a better build quality for some extra bucks won’t break the deal either.

In the recent months, we have seen some positive change. Phones like Micromax A116 Canvas HD or XOLO A1000 are decently built and feel premium in hand. Fine tune them a little more and you are almost there.

2. Software Updates: “Once you buy it, you are on your own,” that seems to be the mantra of Indian mobile companies.

If you have bought a smartphone from one of the local manufacturers, you are out of luck with the S/W updates. If your new smartphone runs on an older version of Android, rest assured that it will remain on the same forever.

This is certainly one area which the Indian manufacturers have completely neglected. It’s not the case with the budget smartphones only. Consumers buying a smartphone at INR 6-7k price range might not be worried about S/W updated, but someone, who is spending around INR 10-15k, will definitely want a decent software update support.

For Example: A pretty popular smartphone like Micromax A110 Canvas 2, which was one of the bestselling smartphones from Micromax last year, still runs on Android 4.0 ICS. I think this attitude is not going to help any of these companies. A lot needs to be done in this area.

3. Service Centres: The first thing that comes to mind when buying any new electronic device is the after sales service and the service centre availability. This is one more area where the Indian manufacturers lag way behind. People still prefer a Nokia/Samsung just because they are sure that they will find a service centre of these manufacturers in every corner of the country.

Unfortunately, same is not the case with the Indian manufacturers. Apart from one or two, most of the companies do not have service centres pan-India or a decent on-call support. If the Indian manufacturer want to get in the league of top cellphone makers, such things need to be sorted-out on the priority basis.

4. Brand value: The one thing that separates the home-grown manufacturers from the multinational is the brand value that the biggies bring with them. There are a lot of consumers, who buy a high-end device just because it is from a particular brand. They are very “badge” conscious and want to get the latest and the greatest.

Such devices surely grab a lot of eye-balls compared to the devices launched by the local manufacturers. But, a good brand building strategy and lots of good and innovative marketing campaigns can make surely help the Indian companies and then – Rome was not built in a day, as keep doing good and consumers will surely recognise the work.

What are your thoughts on the matter, please drop in comments.

Image credit: Mint

This is a guest post by Naresh Keshavwar, who is a technology enthusiast and loves to follow the latest happening in the smartphone world with a keen eye.


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