Karbonn is India’s third largest smartphone maker and fourth largest mobile phone manufacturer according to research firm IDC’s data released in February. With a 10 per cent smartphone market share, the company clearly wants to get the better of Micromax which is second only to Samsung in the space. Karbonn’s executive director Shashin Devsare talks about the company’s future plans.
What are you plans for manufacturing in India? What are the challenges and opportunities?
We have reached a point of growth wherein it makes sense for us to set up manufacturing in India and we are very supportive of this strategy. But we need government support to help set up a parts and components ecosystem that will be conducive for us to set up assembly plants here. Every countries provide equal, if not better, opportunities for local manufacturing; but unfortunately this is still not the case with India. While the recent budgetary announcements are positive for the domestic manufacturing industry, more sops like liberalised taxation policies on domestic manufacturing and greater tax holidays for the domestic component industry are needed.
Do you think Indian manufacturers are going through a phase of consolidation? Will there be space for so many players in this smartphone space?
Today the Indian smartphone market is quite fragmented with the presence of MNCs, multiple Indian brands, as well as new Chinese entrants. While the fate of the Chinese players in this open market model is as yet unknown, the market scenario with respect to fragmentation is reminiscent of the Indian PC market in the early 2000’s which resulted in falling prices and lower profitability for the entire value chain, leading to consolidation by exit. We expect a similar scenario to play out in the smartphone market in India over the next few years.
Of late, Indian manufacturers have been exploring top end models. Is Karbonn also thinking on those lines? Why?
We already have several flagship devices in our portfolio which combine the best elements in technology to offer cutting-edge and unique experiences to our consumers. We have just launched smartphones based on Hexa-Core and Octa-Core processors with many new features. Our primary consumers are youth, who are not shy to experiment with brands which offer them the best of innovation at affordable prices.
Are you also looking to go global?
We are creating a strategic presence in over 40 countries and intend to expand this to 65 countries in the coming financial year by initiating country-specific partnerships. We are therefore partnering with national distribution chains and operators alike in alignment with country specific strategies as we expand our footprint worldwide. We are getting excellent response to our products from consumers in dynamic mobile markets like South Africa, Middle East and South-Asia.
Karbonn is today is the number 3 smartphone manufacturer in India. What is your growth strategy?
Karbonn plans to strengthen its presence in the Indian smartphone market with a range of forward looking initiatives. So we will associate with Microsoft for Windows Phone OS, offer ‘True’ Multi-Core processors by MediaTek and launch affordable 4G LTE smartphones by the end of this year. Karbonn is now working on TD-LTE and FD-LTE technology in association with 4G industry leaders like Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel, Aircel and Videocon Telecom to bring affordable 4G LTE devices to the country.