While India is one of the largest markets for the phablets — the range of large smartphones with screen sizes between 5 and 6.99 inches — it is the 7-inch tablet with calling that offers more value for the first time smartphone users. And companies like Pune-based Swipe Technologies are reaping the benefits of this Indian like for large screens.
“We have found a sweet spot between Rs 4,000 and Rs 8,000 and this is where we have found massive success,” says Shripal Gandhi, founder and CEO of Swipe Technologies. His company already claims a 6 per cent market share in the tablet market and is aiming to end this year at 10 per cent.
This comes at a time when tablets sales across the world have been contracting. Even in India, there was a 15 per cent contraction in the market, according to IDC. However, the research firm predicts single digit growth for the segment in 2015 thanks to large government and education projects.
All of the devices in this so-called sweet spot are 7-inch tablets with calling that offer a huge value proposition for those who are looking for their first smartphone or computing device. “Is there any phablet that can offer this value to the user,” asks Gandhi, underlining how most phablets with a large screen are priced close to Rs 10,000. He says the 7-inch tablet is able to benefit from the economy of scale which smartphones can’t.
Gandhi, who has worked with top tech companies like Apple and Samsung before returning to India to set up his own venture, says his company’s motto is to offer high quality utility devices at affordable prices. Incidentally, the company’s top selling model recently is a 3D tablet, the only such device in the Indian market.
However, Gandhi is categorical that his is not a hardware company. “Unlike other Indian brands our strength lies in offering the entire ecosystem with the solutions that are needed,” he says, highlighting how education is becoming an important vertical for the company. “We have deployed more than one lakh tablets in the education space and a lot of these devices come with content for specific courses,” explains Gandhi. In the enterprise space, the company is working with State Bank of India for a NFC-based payment solution.
While the company is prepared to launch its first 4G devices in the coming months, Gandhi says we have to understand the fact that 3G is still a very distant dream in many parts of India. “The gap between 3G and 4 devices is still above Rs 1,500 and that will be a big factor in the affordable devices segment. So it remains to be seen if people will spend that much extra for 4G when they still can’t get good 3G,” he says, adding that there will still be some people who will want to future-proof themselves.