The launches of new operating systems and players are going to be game changers for the Indian smartphone market. Samsung is planning to launch smartphones running its own operating system (OS) called Tizenin in India and Russia. The Korean electronics giant’s Android running phones already rule the Indian market with almost 40 percent share, leaving local players Micromax and Karbonn far behind.
Being a Linux-based operating system similar to Google Android, Tizen OS could help Samsung capitalize on the huge opportunity for low-cost smartphones in India. The Indian market is growing at a fast pace, with the country’s smartphone sales rising over a whopping 219 per cent to 14.5 million units in January through March this year, according to research firm CyberMedia Research. According to the CyberMedia data, market share of Karbonn Mobiles decreased to 5.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 from from 11.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2013, while Samsung increased its share to 43.2 per cent. Micromax’ share also rose to 17.5 per cent. Samsung is planning to introduce at least two smartphones running the Tizen operating system. The first such phone is likely to debut in Russia as early as June this year.
In a country like India where buyers are usually price-conscious, the Tizen OS devices could well replace Android’s if marketed as low-cost entry-level devices. In addition to the price, compatibility with multiple mobile platforms and extensive personalization capabilities are big attractions of Tizen OS. Compatibility means applications made for the Tizen OS can be run in other OS like the IOS and Android with a little change in code. In particular, developers will find this feature very appealing as their application will be used by the IOS and Android devices as well. In comparison, Android and IOS applications run only under the respective operating systems.
Meanwhile, Motorola has also joined the fight for the low-priced smartphones market in India by launching Moto E. The entry of Motorola in this space signals a threat not just for market leader Samsung but also for Micromax and Karbonn, as Moto has a strong brand presence. Feature-rich, yet low-priced, Moto E can disrupt statistics of the lower and mid-range smartphone market in India, where 14.5 million devices were sold in the first quarter, according to CyberMedia Research.
The latest brand to join the fast-growing Indian smartphones market is Obi, a startup by former Apple CEO, John Sculley. The company plans to launch devices priced between Rs 5000 and 8000. In the Android category, Korean major LG is planning to launch four new low-cost models in India. These models–LG L90, L70, L40, and LG X3–were recently demonstrated at the LG Tech Show 2014.
Local players too are gearing up to for tough competition. Companies like Micromax, Karbonn, and Lava are expected to launch their Windows Phone 8.1 devices soon. Interestingly, barring Apple and Nokia, almost every other phone sold in India is an Android device. Thus Android smartphones enjoy about 93 percent market share in India, compared to 80 per cent share globally.
By Uma Bansal