Samsung hits at core of smartphone upstarts

Tags: News
The two leading Indian mobile handset brands, Micromax and Karbonn, which made a name for themselves with dual-SIM budget-priced handsets, are now facing a massive challenge from market leader Samsung, which has cornered the market for premium, feature-rich smartphones. Last Thursday, Samsung came out with a new range of mid-priced smartphones under a new series REX. India will be the first market globally for this series.

Samsung Electronics said its REX value phone series comprising four models at launch would be priced from Rs 4,280 to Rs 6,490. The Korean major’s Gal-axy Grand smartphone and Note series already do-minate the top end of the market with the former priced almost Rs 10,000 below the later to attract budget-conscious consumers.

In response, Karbonn had announced on January 28 the launch of its Smart Titanium 1-quad-core smartphone, exclusively from its own website.

However, despite Valentine’s Day too passing off, the company has been unable to make one of its highest priced and most hi-tech offerings available across e-tailers or retail stores in the country. On the Karbonn website, the ‘book now’ option merely asks customers to fill in their details and promises that the company will get in touch with them to fulfill the order. There is no mechanism on the site to accept payment online to confirm the order instantaneously.

An email sent to the Karbonn spokesperson last Wednesday did not elicit any response till the time of going to press on Sunday. However, the Karbonn spokesperson informed via a text message that an interview scheduled with Shashin Devsare, executive director of Karbonn Mobiles, could not happen as he was travelling abroad.Alpana Parida, president of DY Works, a brand design company said both Karbonn and Micromax could only ride premium position on the back of good technology. These two firms have been facing a threat to their market share as brands such as Samsung strengthen their lower-end line-up.

“Both Karbonn and Micromax must innovate their value-end line-up to maintain their market share,” said Santosh Desai, managing director (MD) and CEO of Future Brands, a part of Future Group. Nilesh Gupta, CEO of Vijay Sales, said, “Both Karbonn and Micromax have to reduce their value line of phones to be able to reposition their brands at the premium end.”Karbonn’s yet-to-be-launched Smart Titanium 1-quad-core smartphone is built on Google’s Android platform and priced at Rs 10,990. The company has sourced the chipset, which has a 1.2 GHz processing speed, from US-based Qualcomm. It has dual camera, supports 3G and Wi-fi connectivity, GPS, expandable memory up to 32 GB among other features. The Micromax A116 Canvas HD is powered by MediaTek’s MT6589 1.2 GHz quad core processor and runs Android 4.1 (jelly bean). The phone has a five-inch HD IPS screen with resolution of 1280X720 and a 2100 mAh battery. Micromax, India’s leading handset manufacturer, last Saturday said it sold over 9,000 of the Canvas HD units in less than 24 hours of announcing the online sale of the device on www.micromax.com.

Tony Navin, vice president for business development, Snapdeal.com, online partner of Micromax, said: “We took this live at midnight and we were completely surprised to see all 500 units that we expected to sell in the entire day sold out within 15 minutes of launch. Our call volume shot through the roof with enquiries and we have replenished inventory levels to cater to more sales. In a category such as mobiles, such a pace of sales beats our previous record.” On Saturday, Micromax also started selling the A116 Canvas HD at Rs 15,999 on www.kaunsa.com. Shubhodip Pal, chief marketing officer of Micromax, told Financial Chronicle that the company plans to give its new range of mobiles an international look and feel to prepare it for the global market. “By month-end, Canvas HD will be available in retail stores,” he added. meghnamaiti@mydigitalfc.com

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