Firms compete with each other for a share in the country’s smartphone market, which is expected to touch 10 million by 2010.
Mobile manufacturing majors Nokia, Motorola, Research in Motion (BlackBerry), Samsung and LG are trying to outsmart each other with their nifty offerings in a bid for higher average revenue per user (ARPU). They are also competing with each other for a share of the country’s smartphone market, which is expected to touch 10 million by 2010.
The war has simply intensified with the entry of the iconic and much-hyped Apple iPhone. But the going will, in no way, be easy for Apple. Consider these facts. For one, Nokia sells a phone somewhere on this planet every 18 seconds and has 9,200 applications written for its phones.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Nokia has a slightly over 82 per cent of the market share in the smartphone category. It is estimated that the India figures hover around this number. The other competitors come way below.
Moreover, Nokia has already announced the company’s intention to launch N95’s successor next month. “N96 will give users memory that they have never seen on a mobile phone. N96 can store up to 18,000 songs, up to 20,000 images and up to 60 hours of video or 20 full-length movies,” claims Devinder Kishore, director (marketing).
Besides, Nokia brand campaigns are already urging consumers to pre-book the phone from across 2,000 Nokia outlets across the country. N96 is expected to be priced at around Rs 32,000. Noticeably, Nokia’s N-series, E-series and feature phones continue to generate the most revenue and profit for the company. Even with more than 20 new devices announced during the first half of the year, more models are expected in the second half.
Samsung, the number-two player, has a market share of 7.5 per cent in the mobile devices market and is nurturing an ambition to grow to 15 per cent in the next 8-10 months. Sunil Dutt, country head, Samsung Telecommunications, is betting big on Omnia, Samsung’s much-anticipated, multi-media smartphone.
“The flagship model for Samsung in the third quarter will be the Samsung Omnia, slated for a September launch. It brings together high performance, business content, style, a touch-screen menu and dynamic, multi-media experience for consumers,” he says.
While the Samsung Guru series device gave entry-level volumes to Samsung, Dutt also acknowledges the contribution of multi-media phones like the Samsung Beat series and Samsung Soul devices. “By the year-end, we expect around 40 per cent of Samsung mobile sales in India to come from the multi-media phone segment,” he says.
LG, too, which has approximately 3 per cent market share in India, has witnessed sustained sales from its Dynamite series and expects the same from the recently-launched KP199. LG’s high-end camera phone, Viewty, even at Rs 21,000, has done extremely well, having sold 9 million units globally.
Anil Arora, business group head (GSM and PCs), LGEIL, wants to grow LG’s share in the GSM market to 6 per cent and says, “We already have internet-ready, high-end phones on the platform of touch-screen technology like the KS20, Viewty.” LG will soon unveil the LG KC550, another 5 megapixel camera phone that brings professional-quality photography into focus. LG Secret, the third model in its Black Label Series, is to follow too. “The LG Secret’s main display becomes touch-sensitive when users activate the Touch Media,” says Arora.
Analysts, too, aver that the iPhone will not have a smooth going. Jaideep Ghosh, director, KPMG, argues that just as the BlackBerry took a while to break into India, eventually launching its devices across operators, “I see Apple taking the same route”. BlackBerry devices were earlier exclusively available on Airtel networks for almost 12 months, before the offer was extended to other GSM and CDMA operators. Manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung and LG have an access to a wider range of subscribers since their devices are not exclusive to any particular mobile operator.
Anshul Gupta, principal analyst, Gartner, opines that Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry, LG and Sony Ericsson with their new devices can spoil Apple’s joyride in India. “A steep price of Rs 36,000 definitely mars Apple iPhone’s sales, especially when high-end, multi-media smartphones from Nokia, BlackBerry and Samsung are now available at Rs 25,000 or even less.” He is not ruling out the first few thousands, who would switch to Apple iPhone, “but they would be the ones who have seen or experienced Apple products”.
Apple lovers argue that history is on the side of the iconic brand. Apple sales have always been driven by Steve Jobs’ charisma, excellent design sense (system design skill is Apple’s core competence) and competence when it comes to integrating software and hardware.
Besides, Apple is one of the coolest brands on the earth, has a very good user interface and scores on the music front. However, it will take much more than this for Apple to beat its competitors on the Indian soil.
6 months ago