Indian smartphone industry has come a long way. As we usher in 2019, it is believed that the year is going to be eventful for the industry in several ways. We are going to see only players fundamentally strong in technology being in the race, while the technology trading brands will further diminish. This is because supply chain driven approach will no longer work, and an OEM has to substantially add value, especially deriving the maximum from a processor, which can become the key differentiator.
The scenario is going to be even challenging as 5G sets in the handset industry. 5G smartphones are not just about the performance of the main components. Its success will be in how efficiently and intelligently the device is able to talk with the environment. 5G smartphones have to essentially live in an environment. Thus, their design should be able to facilitate that. This is where the engineering skills of OEMs would be put to test. Any brand having scarce skills will face the death.
On the market understanding point-of-view, over these years, we have enough insights that help us in profiling a user. Unfortunately, so far, the market is essentially segmented by price. There is no other dimension we have been able to add, and smartphones are made only to align with a particular segment. We have made no efforts to really understand and profile users in a matrix within these price segments, which could create a very personalized smartphone for all.
If we analyze the insights of past decade of smartphone usage in India, we have a lot of segments that could be defined. These would offer large enough opportunities for the smartphone industry to create unique offerings for each of these. That is how analytics can propel the industry. A classic example is ORION of UPS. It has a multi-page complex algorithm that saves the global logistics company $400 million annually. There are several such stories where analytics has given second life to the industry.
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If smartphone brands have to create a sustainable business in India, they will have to define their own territories, which can be done using analytics. All the indicators so far have proven that there is no brand loyalty as brands have moved through the pecking order several times so far. Right now, there is a third breed of ‘market leaders’, the first being global Tier 1 brands; then the Indian domestic brands.
There are several brands in India which are selling up to 10 million smartphones a year. Rather than chasing the entire potential base, these could reorient themselves and specialize as smartphone makers for these very specific user profiles that would be defined by analyzing the past. That’s how they can differentiate and create their cult which is technology driven rather than an emotional fan following. The technology building blocks are sufficiently available to facilitate this. Hope the serious players in the market start looking at the opportunity from a different dimension and become value added smartphone brands rather than just another brand pursuing a pie in a very generic market.
This article is written by Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Principal Analyst, techARC
Disclaimer: Views expressed are the author’s personal opinion, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of BGR India.746433