China-based smartphone makers like Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Gionee are setting their sights on the Indian market, according to a Reuters report by Aman Shah and Aditi Shah. Some are sponsoring cricket tournaments while others are recruiting Bollywood stars to help sell their wares.
The report notes that India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, and yet only 10 percent of the population uses smartphones – which means there’s a lot of room for growth. And while a recent report found smartphone shipments in the country on a downward trend, it also noted that India’s telecoms are about to provide 4G networks, which could offer a broad boost for the smartphone market. And so, facing an oversaturated market on their own turf, China based companies are now looking to India for opportunities. Xiaomi, for example, just hosted its first global launch event outside of China – for its Mi 4i model – in New Delhi.
Still, there are some major challenges to overcome. The Reuters article notes a market analyst as noting that there has been something of a “stigma attached to Chinese brands”, though that is starting to fade. Another issue is that Korea-based Samsung currently dominates the market. And then there’s the recent legal trouble over patents, which actually saw Ericsson succeed in arguing for an injunction banning the sale of Xiaomi devices in the country for a time; more such cases could scare some of the smaller smartphone makers out of the market.
For now, though, they’re keen to try their luck. Mobile commerce is on the upswing in India, there are a lot of potential new consumers, and, as a great sportsman once said, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”