More Players Venture Into Indian Handset Sector

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handsetThe highly-divided Indian mobile handset market is getting more players. Most of  them are Chinese and they are targeting the market left by grey market-sold, Non IMEI handsets, banned by Indian Govt. due to security concerns. The last deadline for banning such handsets is scheduled at Decemeber 1, 2009.

Worth Rs 26,000 crore, the Indian mobile handset market is mainly dominated by branded phones from Finland-headquatered Nokia (more than 50%),  Sony Ericsson,  Samsung,  LG and Motorola. Apart from these high profile handset makers, some major brands like HTC, Haier, Bleu, Spice, Videocon, Philips and some smaller brands like Simoco, Kyocera, Sagem, Micromax, Fly, Huawei, Xenitis, GeePee, Usha also peep into this market.

RIM’s Blackberry services are offered on country’s most networks like Airtel, Reliance (CDMA & GSM), Vodafone, Tata Tele (CDMA & GSM), BSNL, MTNL, Idea, Aircel. And last but not the least, Apple’s iPhone also reached India via Airtel and Vodafone.

Some months ago, Essar Group entered the handset market via its “The Mobile Store” retail chain, introducing China-made ‘Ray’ branded mobiles, while TCL Corp launched its Alcatel branded handsets through “The Mobile Store”.

Unbranded Chinese handsets are popular to price-conscious Indians, as those offers high-end features at comparatively low prices. At the same time these cheap handsets also have demerits to their own – no service centres and no warranty, and if it stops working, it is really hard to get parts to repair.  The lack of International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers in unbranded handsets makes them non-traceable and creates security concerns. As a good percentage of people are using such handsets mobile operator are not likely to bar services, rather they want to implant a IMEI onto such handsets.

Wikipedia : The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a number unique to every GSM and WCDMA and iDEN mobile phone, as well as some satellite phones. It is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone. It can also be displayed on the screen of the phone by entering *#06# into the keypad.
CDMA phones are equipped with Electronic Serial Number or MEID.

Some Indian enterprises like Essar Gr, are also importing Chinese handsets with IMEI nos., and selling them with their own brand name. These handsets come with warranty, and after-sale services. Mentioning a few of them – Maxx, Fortune, Karbonn, Olive etc.

Chinese vendors are specialized in the CDMA sector, as a result equipment suppliers ZTE and Huawei already entered India’s telecommunications market. ZTE, ranked among the top six mobile vendors globally, has been selected by Russian telecom giant Sistema, which has partnered with Shyam Telelink, as a vendor for its pan-India roll-out of CDMA networks. ZTE has sold over 25 million handsets in India through operators such as Reliance Communications, BSNL, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone. Now ZTE targets GSM handset market in India also.

Recently Yulong, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed China Wireless Technologies,  is in talks with Reliance Communations to make an exclusive agreement for distribution of Yulong handsets. Highly popular Yulong “Coolpad” models are feature-rich and mostly are on dual technology (GSM+GSM or CDMA+GSM). Yulong is targetting India as they also sell 3G handsets and Reliance is one of the prospective operator to get 3G licence. If the deal is made, Reliance will also enter into retailing of handsets.

Chinese firms are focusing on India, due to some India’s increasing customer base and less contented market with respect to China and forth coming 3G technologies.

Ningbo Bird’s Bird International and Kejian are the other Chinese brands already available in the country from 2003-2004. Bird International retails through its Indian partner Agrani Convergence Ltd. (ACTL). Kejian has an exclusive relationship with the Rajgarhia group, under which Trust Telecom Technologies represents, sells and services Kejian handsets in India and the SAARC region.

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