CHINA IN­VADES IN­DIA

Break­ing all the bar­ri­ers, Chi­nese brands are giv­ing tough com­pe­ti­tion to global and In­dian hand­set man­u­fac­tur­ers

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nidhi Sin­gal

There was a time when flag­ship smart­phones from global brands were way ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion in In­dia, both in terms of looks and per­for­mance. But the mar­ket dy­nam­ics have changed thanks to in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from In­dian hand­set man­u­fac­tur­ers, top Chi­nese play­ers step­ping into the coun­try, and the re­turn of Mo­torola. Global play­ers such as Sony, Sam­sung and HTC have now been forced to come out with good smart­phones at com­pet­i­tive prices. How­ever, it's the Chi­nese play­ers such as Xiaomi, Gionee and Mo­torola which are win­ning the game with bet­ter specs and qual­ity hard­ware. We talk about a bunch of good brands cre­at­ing a niche for them­selves with some great de­vices.

A few brands like Huawei and Al­ca­tel have ex­isted for a good num­ber of years, but play­ers such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Gionee are new to the In­dian mar­ket. While com­pa­nies in the for­mer cat­e­gory are now try­ing to cap­ture mar­ket share, the new en­trants are more ag­gres­sive.

Xiaomi: Just about fouryears old, Xiaomi (pro­nounced as Shao-me) was started by eight co-founders in China. They came up with their first smart­phone, Mi 1, in 2011 and re­ceived around 3,00,000 or­ders within a few hours. The Mi 2 fol­lowed the ini­tial suc­cess story and sold more than 10 mil­lion units. The Mi3 is again a pop­u­lar phone, launched in In­dia re­cently. While all this sounds or­di­nary, there are many spe­cial things about Xiaomi. The com­pany isn't avail­able in any off­line re­tail chan­nel and sells phones on­line. It doesn't be­lieve in tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and in­stead com­mu­ni­cates through so­cial net­work­ing sites. Its flag­ship smart­phones are not ex­pen­sive. The com­pany be­lieves in of­fer­ing phones al­most at cost and earn money by sell­ing the de­vices for over a year and a half and also

by mak­ing and sell­ing ac­ces­sories. Lastly, it is one com­pany that up­dates its phone's op­er­at­ing sys­tem and fea­tures ‘Over the Air' up­date ev­ery al­ter­nate week. For a new brand name in In­dia, the Mi 3 has re­ceived a spec­tac­u­lar re­sponse. The com­pany comes up with flash sales on Flip­kart and puts up 10,000 to 15,000 units on sale ev­ery time. It has re­ceived more than 350,000 reg­is­tra­tions for the Mi3 – a huge num­ber. While the first sale fin­ished in 40 min­utes, sub­se­quent ones lasted five seconds and then only two seconds. For the last two sales, the com­pany al­lowed users to add the phone to their cart and make pay­ment be­fore the end of the day.

Gionee: You couldn’t have missed Gionee’s ad­ver­tise­ment of the world’s slimmest smart­phone – the S5.5 – tak­ing a dig at the Sam­sung Galaxy S5 by say­ing it’s ‘not made of plas­tic.’ Well, that’s Gionee for you, which has been very ag­gres­sively ad­ver­tis­ing its two flag­ship smart­phones – the Elife E7 and the S5.5. Un­like Xiaomi, this isn’ t a new com­pany. Founded in China in 2002, Gionee en­tered In­dia last year to com­pete against global brands such as Sam­sung and Nokia as well as In­dian play­ers in­clud­ing Mi­cro­max and Kar­bonn. Within a short span of time, Gionee has rolled out a wide range of hand­sets. It has re­ceived a good re­sponse, both for the hard­ware and soft­ware. The com­pany, val­ued around $2.3 bil­lion, claims to have al­ready reached a turnover of 500 crore within a year of launch­ing its In­dian op­er­a­tions last Fe­bru­ary. It has cap­tured a two per cent mar­ket share and sold eight lakh hand­sets. The com­pany ex­pects to reach a tar­get of 2,500 crore by the end of this year, with av­er­age rev­enue of 125 crore a month. Gionee is look­ing at be­com­ing the num­ber six player in In­dia, with lo­cal sales of six mil­lion smart­phones out of the 35 mil­lion global sales tar­get by the end of 2014 from 15 mod­els.

Oppo Mo­bile: Af­ter mak­ing its pres­ence felt in China, Oppo Mo­bile de­cided to en­ter the evolv­ing In­dian hand­set mar­ket ear­lier this year. The com­pany has in­vested heav­ily by sign­ing ac­tors Hrithik Roshan and Sonam Kapoor to pro­mote its hand­sets. It be­lieves in lay­ing em­pha­sis on ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’. The com­pany plans to have a di­verse port­fo­lio of more than 10 mo­bile phones across cat­e­gories by De­cem­ber 2014. It ven­tured into In­dia with the flag­ship N1 abd now has quite a few of­fer­ings in the mar­ket.

Xiaomi

Mi 1

Xiaomi Mi 3: The best-sell­ing smart­phone for Xiaomi till date. While the com­pany has an­nounced the launch of

Mi4 in China, it hasn't re­vealed its plan to bring the lat­est de­vice to In­dia yet.

Redmi se­ries: At the launch of the Mi3, Xiaomi shared its plan to launch two more smart­phones un­der 10,000 in In­dia. The Redmi Note (in pic­ture) will be priced at 9,999 and the Redmi 1S at 6,999.

Gionee Elife E7

Gionee

S5.5

Oppo N1: The N1 sports a stun­ning 5.9-inch Full HD IPS Ca­pac­i­tive Touch­screen. It is pow­ered by a 1.7GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 600 Quad Core pro­ces­sor and is ac­com­pa­nied by 2GB of RAM and the Adreno

320 GPU. It has a 13MP ro­tat­ing snap­per that comes with a ded­i­cated im­age sig­nal pro­ces­sor, aper­ture f/2.0 and dual mode LED along with fea­tures such as beau­tify, high speed, panorama, and slow shut­ter. It comes

with 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age and is priced at 32,990.

Oppo R1: The R1 sports a 5-inch IPS dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 1280 x 720pix­els. It is pow­ered by a Me­di­aTek MT6582 chipset with a 1.3 GHz Quad Core pro­ces­sor along with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB of in­ter­nal mem­ory. It comes with an 8MP rear cam­era with f/2.0 wide aper­ture, which is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing ex­cel­lent images in low-light con­di­tions. It runs on the An­droid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean-based ColorOS. The hand­set mea­sures 142.7 x 70.4 x 7.1 mm and weighs about 140 grams. It has a 2,410 mAh bat­tery and is re­tail­ing for 24,990.

Oppo Joy: The Oppo Joy, re­tail­ing for 8,990, runs on Color OS (based on An­droid 4.2). It has dual-SIM ca­pa­bil­i­ties and a unique fea­ture called Hot­knot that not only en­ables faster trans­mis­sion of data but se­cure file sharing as well. The de­vice has a 3-megapixel rear cam­era plus a 0.3-megapixel front cam­era. It is a power-packed de­vice with a 1.3GHz dual-core pro­ces­sor, 4GB user mem­ory, a mi­croSD slot that sup­ports up to 32GB stor­age and a 1700 mAh bat­tery.

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