The newer, smaller players have fought hard to weaken Nokia’s grapplehold over the Indian market and have managed to reduce its market share. But a 54% market share in the Indian market means that for Nokia, it’s still game on!
Rahul Dahiya, has been postponing his decision to purchase a mobile handset for over two months now. Being a small time entrepreneur, who literally lives out of his suitcase for days, many-a-time, he has been on the prowl for a device that gives him a good battery life and allows him to check emails while on the go. He had been to some handset retailers that have set up shops in-and-around his residence, about eight weeks back and tried his hands on the Nokia E72 and E71 and some BlackBerry models, phones that were priced between Rs.13,000 to Rs.19,000. Satisfied, he made up his mind to pick one of the above within a couple of days.

What followed, was mind-changing as it was rare. It is perhaps one of those strange occasions when the seller discourages the buyer to make a purchase; this was one of them. His retailer showed him options that came at about a quarter of the price and were typical lookalikes to the BlackBerrys and other handsets belonging to the E-Series! Though price was not a constraint, Dahiya got into a fix over the final choice that he had to make. While on hand, he had the standard high-priced brands to choose from, and on the other, he had lower-priced options that surprisingly offered him more in terms of features (than those that he was previously willing to settle for).

Dahiya had already seen some of these new handset brands in many TVCs, print ads and billboards; one of them was Micromax. He had known the name, seen the logo many times, heard about the competitive prices from many colleagues, but had never experienced the service. ‘Trust’ was questionable. But it’s difficult not to believe in the third-highest official seller of handsets in the country! Micromax had made a name for itself in the country. And for a price-sensitive market, there can’t be a better package than a QWERTY keypad handset, with an Opera Mini Browser and a single-touch access to social networking at Rs.4,500. And Micromax is just one amongst tens others who are offering prices that are just taking the game away from the likes of Nokia, Blackberry, Samsung, et al. There are names like LAVA, Maxx, Victor, Fly, Spice, Zen, Karbonn, Intex, Wynn Telecom and many more who are offering products at price points never heard before, having well understood the need-gap in the Indian market. They entered the market in 2008, and since then have taken the game to a different level in Tier II & III locations. According to IDC these Indian handset makers have collectively amassed a staggering 17.5% of the 100-million Indian handset market by December 2009, some jump from a meager 0.9% in March 2008. “The key to capturing the Indian handset market lies in mastering distribution and no amount of marketing effort or spend can make up for that,” says Naved Chaudhary, CMO, Wynn Telecom.


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