India is not only the fastest growing smartphone market globally but also the most unique one. The uniqueness lies in the fact that India is an open market where a new entrant can come and take the market by storm. We have seen this with Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo and there are a few vendors hoping to replicate the success.
As observed by Counterpoint Research, the past year saw entry of new brands like HMD Global and Infinix and both have created a following within a short period of their existence. While HMD Global stills seems a bit familiar with its Nokia-branded, Infinix has little or no novelty to bank upon for its success in India. Infinix is a smartphone brand of China’s Transsion Holdings, which operates in 36 countries globally and is the market leader in Africa and Middle East. However, the brand has little recognition in India and it sees there is an opportunity to create a following for its products in the country.
Infinix made its debut with the launch of Hot Pro 4 and Note 4 smartphones in August last year. The company soon introduced a premium device in the form of Zero 5 and it’s newest device is called Hot S3, a budget device aimed at selfie-centric smartphone buyers.
“Infinix is targeting 10 percent market share in India’s online smartphone market by the end of 2018,” CEO Anish Kapoor told BGR India on the sidelines of the launch. He added that first few product launches can be seen as testing waters and its full set of product portfolio will arrive this year with the company planning to launch a new smartphone once every two months.
When asked about company’s multi-brand retail strategy and whether the brands will cannibalize each other’s market share, Kapoor said that each brand has its own unique aspect. He said the itel and Spice brands will continue to offer superior value in the sub-Rs 7,000 price category while Tecno and Infinix will serve as mid-range smartphone brand. He also added that Infinix smartphones will always be available online while Tecno will expand to more offline retail channels.
Kapoor says that the multi-brand retail strategy will be executed based on company’s success in African market. He says that the key for Infinix and other brands of Transsion Holdings will be the customization it offers on its mobile devices. The company’s smartphones come loaded with an app called Freezer, which can be used to freeze memory of applications the consumer does not use but does not want to uninstall it either. He says going forward, the company will further tweak its applications to make them work for Indian audience.
Infinix Hot S3, the latest budget smartphone launched exclusively on Flipkart, comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. At a starting price of Rs 8,999, the Hot S3 is one of the cheapest smartphone to run latest version of Android. The Chinese smartphone maker is not shying away from touting it as one of the core features.
Speaking about the software, Kapoor said the latest Android was totally intentional since consumers rate software experience relatively high while buying a smartphone. He added that Infinix has started working on Oreo update for its Note 4 smartphone and will roll out in the coming months. However, Infinix didn’t give a specific timeline for future updates for its devices but latest version of Android on a budget device is a good indicator of company’s work in the software space.
With major smartphone makers exploring devices with Android Oreo (Go edition), Infinix says the operating system is still in works and it will see whether the software fits for its products at a later stage. For now, the company is not confirming whether it will launch devices running Oreo (Go edition) in budget device range.
With the Hot S3, Infinix is entering the segment dominated by the likes of Oppo and Vivo, who pitch camera as the biggest selling point of their devices. Kapoor says Hot S3 not only provides a good selfie camera, but also offers good battery and performance, which he adds is the key requirement for consumers buying smartphones in the sub-Rs 10,000 category.
Infinix and its offline-only Tecno brand seem to tick the right boxes for a budget and mid-range smartphone segment but it also has an uphill task of competing against established names like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. The company seems to understand the same and Kapoor says localization of its products will serve as major differentiator along with better optimization between hardware and software.