Guest Post by Sanjeev Kumar.
Whenever one talks about the Indian smartphone market, especially the budget segment, the first brand that comes to the mind is Micromax. No matter wherever you go, you will spot every third person flaunting a Micromax smartphone. The Indian brand, which threatened the market leader Samsung in the year 2014, appeared to be losing its touch during the last year. While both Samsung and Micromax retained their first and second positions respectively, Micromax witnessed a huge dip in its sales volume by the end of 2015. There were several reasons behind the dip in performance of Micromax and the advent of premium Chinese brands was one of them. In this write-up we will take a look at the numbers posted by various brands and the reason behind Micromax’s dip and rise of other brands in India.
Recent positioning of brands in India
Recently, major brands posted the numbers achieved by them in the last quarter of the year 2015 and we are not surprised to see Samsung at the top of the chart, yet again. The South Korean handset maker owned 28.6% market share in the smartphone domain, which is a significant improvement over same period of last year (27.4% in 2014). In 2015, Micromax had the second largest chunk of the market share with 14.30% share. However, the number comes as a huge surprise to us as the brand posted a share of 19.50% in the corresponding period of last year. The real shocker, however, was the number posted by Lenovo (including Motorola) that jumped to 11.40% from 4.70 % in last quarter of 2014. Rest of the market share is occupied by remaining brands where Intex (9.6%) and Lava (6.8%) who showed a significant jump from the last year.
In 2015, it was the budget segment of smartphone that ruled the market in the country and Micromax was again the leader, however, it posted a decline in the market share vis-à-vis last year. Samsung and Lenovo, on the other hand, posted a significant figure that is in excess of double their figure in 2014.
How Smartphone manufacturers fared year on year against 2014?
Coming to year on year performance by an individual brand, Lenovo has managed to take everyone by surprise. After having acquired Motorola, Lenovo posted a growth of 142%, which is a massive growth for any smartphone manufacturer. The brand has been riding shotgun on the success of Moto and A series of smartphones from its stable. Samsung managed to grow by 4% from last quarter of 2014 to corresponding period of 2015. The South Korean brand has managed to gain lost grounds by launching new budget segment smartphones under its ON and J series. Samsung Galaxy J2 was the best selling smartphone from the brand and the new series is expected to evolve with time.
Surprisingly, the king of budget domain, Micromax is the only brand that reported a percentage decline in the smartphone segment. The Indian handset maker has posted a percentage decline of 27% over the duration of one year from last quarter of 2014.
Looking at the market shares, one cannot help but wonder that Micromax, which happen to be a dominating force in Indian market could drop to such level and be the only brand to slip. However, one of the main causes of Micromax’s downfall is that while the brand maintains a steady flow of new launches at regular intervals, these smartphones do not bring anything new to the table. Apart from a slight improvement in the specifications of the handsets, all smartphones from the brand are a carbon copy of each other. This is the major cause of downfall for the brand. Its rival brands like Motorola, Samsung, Lenovo, Xiaomi and LeTV are all bringing cutting edge technology with each new launch and every new smartphone from them are different from their predecessors.
What can Micromax do to recover lost ground?
To recover the lost grounds in Indian handset market, Micromax needs to hold its horses and focus more upon quality than quantity. The brand needs to understand that by launching hundred smartphones in a calendar year won’t work. Launching so many devices leads to confusion only in the mind of the end user. What Micromax needs to do is to invest more in research and development, study the competition and come up with fewer but more aggressive smartphones (in terms of specifications and features) that can take devices from the likes of Motorola and Xiaomi, heads on. This approach seems to be working for brands like Motorola that only launches three new devices every year but with class leading specifications and each generation of these handsets are class apart from each other.
Take the example of budget segment in smartphone market as of now, there are already smartphones flaunting full metal body, fingerprint scanner and full HD display among others. Micromax need to pull their resources invested in launching higher number of smartphones every year and concentrate them in launching fewer but value-for-money smartphones.