Why low-cost smartphone players should find success in India

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Dec. 4 2020, Updated 10:52 a.m. ET

Intex Technologies enters the Indian smartphone market with $33 phones

In the previous part of this series, we discussed the dynamics of the Indian smartphone market.

Recently, Intex announced the introduction of its first smartphone in India, named Cloud FX. This smartphone will be based on the Mozilla Firefox operating system and will be priced pretty low, at $33.

A few months back, Google (GOOGL) also announced the launch of Android One. This is the smartphone operating system specifically introduced for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. Google is planning to launch Android One in India along with local smartphone vendors Micromax and Spice.

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During Asia’s largest computing show, Computex, a couple of months back, Microsoft (MSFT) announced that it will start selling smartphones and tablets running its software at below $200 in emerging markets. Since Microsoft acquired Nokia (NOK) earlier this year, Microsoft has focused on increasing its presence in the emerging markets.

Affordability plays an important role in emerging markets

Emerging markets are price-sensitive, and the affordability factor plays a very important role there. According to a report from IDC and as the chart above shows, in 2013, about 745 million sub-$100 feature phones sold worldwide, and India sold more than 200 million phones, followed by the Middle East and Africa plus Asia-Pacific. That’s why cheaper smartphone players like Nokia (NOK), BlackBerry (BBRY), and Lenovo (LNVGY) have seen more success in these markets.

Even Apple (AAPL), which is otherwise a premium player, had to resort to some price cuts in emerging markets, like launching the cheaper iPhone 5C last year and reducing the prices of older models like the iPhone 4S.

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