• 03:18 Jan 21, 2019

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By: Prasoon Kumar, The Mobile Indian, New DelhiLast updated : August 16, 2018 7:40 pm

Why Chinese made cell phones dominate the Indian handset market

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Chinese made cell phones are seldom feature rich like branded smartphones are, but they provide features that are useful and have practical utility in the Indian context.
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Cell phone manufacturers from China enjoy about 50 per cent market share in the Indian handset segment, according to a Chinese website.

Notably, a Chinese handset player G’Five recently replaced Samsung as the second largest vendor in India. The top three handset makes in India included Nokia (31.5 per cent), G'Five (10 per cent) and Samsung (7.3 per cent), according to a recent IDC India report.

Handset made in China enjoyed steady growth in India even during the economic downturn. Their phones are not feature rich like branded smartphones are, but they are designed for the Indian context.

Only some time ago it was noticed that rural Indian consumers were excited to buy fake branded phones made by Chinese manufacturers , which were distributed through small retail stores , and many of these gadgets just cost around Rs 1,000.

In many cases, consumers were aware what they were buying a fake but they still went for it as the phone worked well and its price was right for them.

Some Chinese made non branded phones also offered features such as analog television with antenna and dual SIM cards, which bigger brands refused to provide at that time and at that price.

Chinese handset manufacturers, however, sacrificed other features such as Bluetooth, internal storage space and capacitive touchscreens.

Observers have also suggested that some phones were sold cheaper in India than in China because they were sold in larger volumes here.

Chinese makers could produce very cheap devices as they sourced chipsets from Taiwan and copied older hardware designs from well known cell phone makers, producing good quality phones at less than expected prices.

The most notable casualty of this trend was Nokia, which could not innovate its way out of the problem like Apple and Google who took advantage of Nokia's reduced numbers and established themselves at the high end of the smartphone market.

It's not that Chinese made mobile phones have been exploited to their full potential in India. If the Chinese examples are anything to go by, the mobile phones there have been used as pocket libraries by local people. Commuters in China can easily be spotted reading on their mobile phones, whereas such uses haven’t become popular among Indian readers. To some extent even publishers are responsible for not producing compatible literature that could be consumed on mobile phones.
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