India next target for Chinese, Taiwanese smartphone makers

India next target for Chinese, Taiwanese smartphone makers

MUMBAI -- Chinese smartphone manufacturers are shaking up the Indian market as they rapidly gain popularity and shift the balance of power in the country's mobile sector.
     Since entering the Indian market in July, Beijing Xiaomi Technology has quickly caught on thanks to its strategy of selling its Mi 3 smartphone through limited-quantity, Internet-only sales events.
     Xiaomi has been offering a fixed number of Mi 3s once every week through an online shop of its local partner, Flipkart. Each weekly event has seen the supply of handsets sell out within seconds.
     The fifth of these events, held on Aug. 19, was no exception. In total, these events have sold well over 50,000 units.
     The Mi 3 carries a price tag of 13,999 rupees ($231). In a market where smartphones typically go for 4,000 rupees to 5,000 rupees, the Mi 3 is not cheap. But the unconventional sales approach seems to be paying off, as the model is selling well.
     Xiaomi plans to launch two more models in India soon. One of them, a model called Redmi 1S, will be priced at 6,999 rupees.
More chances
Taiwan's Asustek Computer is also stepping up efforts to cultivate the Indian market for smartphones. The company launched its Zenfone series in India this summer, with the most basic model offered at 5,999 rupees. The series has been selling well.
     Indian startups, such as Micromax Informatics and Karbonn Mobiles, have done well in the local smartphone market in the past several years, with the two now claiming the second- and third-largest market shares.
     According to U.S. research firm IDC, South Korea's Samsung Electronics commanded a 29% market share for smartphones in the April-June quarter, followed by Micromax at 18%. For the Indian mobile device market as a whole, Micromax had a 14% share against Samsung's 17%.
     Chinese makers, such as Huawei Technologies, have already tried to sell smartphones in India, but they made little impact as local players grew dramatically. Xiaomi's marketing methods, however, have helped spark consumers' interest in new brands.
     Motorola Mobility, too, has maintained a certain amount of presence in the Indian smartphone market. But the U.S. company is now attempting to sell its handset business to China's Lenovo Group. If this happens, competition for bigger slices of the massive Indian smartphone market will likely escalate, with much of the push coming from Chinese and Taiwanese makers.


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