Panasonic today launched its first two feature phones in India – the EZ240 and EZ180 – priced at Rs 1,790 and Rs 1,350. The Japanese company had withdrawn from global smartphone markets and then marked a re-entry into India with its range of budget Android smartphones. With smartphones being the fastest growing segment even in India, why is Panasonic getting into the feature phone market? Also Read - Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 launched in India, price starts at Rs 1.5 lakhAlso Read - Best phones under Rs 6,000: Infinix Smart HD 2021, Redmi 7A, more
One of the plausible reasons would be to increase its shipment volumes that would reflect in Panasonic’s overall mobile phone market share in India and to touch tier two and three markets where feature phones are still in demand. Even though the smartphone market share is growing faster than feature phones in India, feature phones shipments have not exactly withered. Also Read - Prices of LED TVs, refrigerators, other consumer electronics to hike in January
“We expected the feature phone market to decrease over the last couple of quarters, but they are being consistent at 53-54 million units every quarter,” Manasi Yadav, senior market analyst – mobile phones, IDC India, told BGR India. “There is still a lot of room and potential in feature phones. Companies like Karbonn and Micromax are shipping 3-4 million feature phones every quarter,” she added.
While feature phone market share is decreasing by 3-4 percentage points of the overall phone market (feature phones and smartphones) every quarter, the overall size is also increasing, which means feature phone shipments have remained constant or are slightly increasing every quarter. Feature phones still accounted for 78 percent of the overall market in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from 81 percent in the third quarter, according to IDC India.
However, it would be naive to expect Panasonic to set the feature phone market on fire. Unlike the smartphone market where a couple of brands control half of the market, the feature phone segment is fragmented. The top four feature phone brands account for less than half of the entire market. According to IDC India, Nokia leads the segment with 16.9 percent share followed by Samsung (11.2 percent), Karbonn (8.6 percent) and Micromax (8.5 percent).
Yadav sums it up when she says, “It is too late for anyone to enter the feature phone segment right now.”