CXO Dialogues: In conversation with Rahul Sharma, Co-Founder, Micromax Informatics

Homegrown smartphone brand, Micromax, has survived and thrived despite the dominance of Chinese mobile handset brands as well as new domestic rivals. As per CMR India Mobile Handset Market Review, Micromax Informatics was ranked 5th on the overall Mobile Handset Leaderboard for CY2017 with a 7% share of the market.

Rahul Sharma, co-Founder, Micromax Informatics gave his perspectives on the dynamic India mobile handset market, and the innovations one could foresee in the year ahead, in a conversation with Prabhu Ram, Head –Industry Intelligence Group at CMR.

Prabhu Ram: How does Micromax view the India smartphone market in 2018?

Rahul Sharma: India continues to be an exciting market for smartphones and it is also considered as a one with the largest feature phone base. Consumers today want handsets with compelling product proposition at affordable price points. 2017 was an action-packed year and 2018 will witness some of the key innovations in handset industry.

The foundation was laid last year and this year we are witnessing smartphones at the entry level pyramid with pure Android Experience based on Android Oreo (Go Edition). We have been working on Micromax Bharat Go, the first Android Oreo (Go Edition) smartphone to help get the next 500 million consumers online. Consumers will experience not only the web but the App consumption will go up. I can easily say that there will be more smartphones in this category.

Prabhu Ram: In terms of specs innovation, what are the key trends you foresee?

Rahul Sharma: Cameras as expected will play a major role in 2018 as well. Be it the single cameras, or the Dual. Consumer preference seems to be camera capabilities that give the best results, no color fading, better pixels etc.

Display will be among the significant feature this year.

2017 saw the debut of 18:9 aspect ratio displays. There will be focus on such bezel-less displays becoming a norm with more and more budget smartphones implementing the same and 6-inch will soon be the new 5.5-inch on smartphones

When smartphones are driving the digital change, banking and financial transactions taking place through them, you need secure success. This year, we can witness the evolution in terms of security features, being made available to all category of smartphones, from finger print scanners or face unlock, consumers will ask for it and brands will respond.

Prabhu Ram: Beyond technology, what trends and innovations do you foresee in mobile handset prices?

Rahul Sharma: India is the most price sensitive market in the world.

In 2018, the availability of high-speed Internet at a low cost will be the major catalyst for shift from feature phones to 4G feature phones, and will drive the demand of phones available in sub INR 3000 – INR 4000. Entry level smartphones will push the ASPs down and at the mid- price level, consumers will demand better specs at competitive price points.

Prabhu Ram: Beyond technology, what trends and innovations do you foresee from a price point?

Rahul Sharma: India is the most price sensitive market in the world. In the year ahead, the availability of high-speed Internet at a low cost will be the major catalyst for shift from feature phones to 4G feature phones, and will drive the demand of phones available in sub INR 3000 – INR 4000. Entry level smartphones will push the ASPs down and at the mid- price level, consumers will demand better specs at competitive price points.

Prabhu Ram:  In terms of marketing strategy, what is the key mantra at Micromax?

Rahul Sharma: India offers a great of opportunities. It is not one market but many markets rolled into one. Online is a great experience platform and has been able to bring in newer consumers to the fold however there is a large market that still exists where consumers like a personal experience of meeting the neighbourhood shopkeeper, experience the device and then making a purchase decision.

We are an agile brand and we will always play up on our strength, which is Distribution and at the same time take into account the demand of our consumers as well. Keeping in mind the demand, we set ourselves to embark on a dual brand strategy wherein with Micromax phones we will focus on offline stores, while with Yu phones we will focus on online retail stores. We will continue to build and launch the brand both online and offline in order to balance the strategy that gives the consumer freedom to choose their channel of choice.