A Tinno phone? Or a Huaqin or a Malata? The world’s second largest and fastest growing mobile phone market is about to be flooded by virtually unheard of Chinese brands . Not to forget Infinix and Cat phones —products from other countries that are relatively less known but have big plans for India.
Most of them are looking at the feature phone to smartphone conversion market — only 300 million of 1 billion phone users in India have smartphones — as well as at feature phones.
Chinese products will be, predictably, fiercely price-competitive.
And India is the first market they will target in a big way under their own brand name. These companies usually make their money by making phones for better-known brands.
One little known Chinese brand has already entered India — iVoomi launched four smartphone models a few days back.
Original equipment makers or even original design making companies that have been so far confined to China, such as Tinno, Malata and Huaqin, are also preparing to come to India because China’s market itself has slowed down,” said a senior industry executive. He did not want to be named as he recently moved on from a local handset maker.
Emails to Shenzen-based Tinno and Shanghai-headquartered Huaqin did not elicit responses, while Malata Mobiles, also based out of Shenzen, could not be reached for comment.
Chinese brands have already taken four out of the top five slots in India’s smartphone segment: Xiaomi at No 2, followed by Lenovo, Oppo and Vivo. The share of China-based vendors is a huge 46% for the October-December 2016 quarter.
Their shipments doubled over the same period last year, as per IDC data.
“We will see new entrants in the market as India continues to be one of the fastest growing smartphone market in the world and is estimated to grow at 19% in 2017,” added Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, referring to established brands like Nokia – feature phone and smartphones – making a comeback to India by June, only because they see a strong local potential.
Analysts at IDC said that only some price segments have the space for new entrants. “Below $100 there is certainly space, though in the high-end it will have to be about the brand, that’s why there are only two players (Samsung and Apple) effectively playing in the $500-plus mark,” said Navkendar Singh, senior analyst at IDC India.
Transsion Group’s Tecno and Infinix brands — leading brands in Africa — are also slated for an India entry, taking the cue from the success of its first brand Itel, the No 2 phone brand by volume sales in India thanks to its feature phones that are priced as low as Rs 700.
And there’s Cat, Kodak, Land Rover. “We are bringing the Cat S60 & Kodak Ektra to India,” said Linda Summers, chief marketing officer of UK-based Bullitt Group, the worldwide licensee of Caterpillar, Land Rover and Kodak mobile phones.
“We are currently focused on smartphones, but we will be keeping a keen eye on opportunities for Cat feature phones,” Summers added.
Caterpillar Inc’s ‘rugged’ smartphones are sold in several European markets and its Kodak phones are customised for photographers.