Smartphones to drive Diwali sales, Android hot favourite

The trio of September-October-November are pretty big months in India. Those three months bring in lot of festivals. The time between Dussera and Diwali is probably the biggest. Movie releases are lined up during this time and so are any big launches or business openings. Gold will see a enormous surge during this period. This has been the tradition. Now add mobile phones to that list. Mobile biggies have lined up their phone launches for this Diwali season and most of them seem to be smartphones. 

Nokia has launched its latest touchscreen phone, Nokia N8, with a 12 megapixal camera. Dell has launched its smartphone-tablet device, Dell Streak. BlackBerry launched its Touchscreen/keypad phone Blackberry Torch last week. Olivepad, a 7-inch Android tablet, will be shipping next week. These are high-end phones in the range from Rs. 25,000 – Rs. 35,000 ($565-$790).

This surge in smartphone launches is bound to happen as India is all set for its 3G launch. In case you are wondering about the 3G launch, then the plans are very much in place. Tata DoCoMo has announced its launch plans for Diwali. Bharti Airtel has similar plans though the exact launch date is not revealed. 3G devices are selling well even before the services come into picture.

The interesting segment is not the top-end segment of Rs 25K – Rs. 35K. What is happening below that range is quite a fight to watch. The smartphones are no longer restricted to a price range. There is a smartphone available in every price range. The segmentation is not by the features available but by the price range. Touch screen phones with 3G capabilities are as cheap as Rs. 6000 ($130). If Google has its way then the smartphone prices would come down even further.

“You can now classify smartphones in four price ranges – sub Rs 6,000 (around 13 models), Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 (around 13 models), Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 (about 32 models) and over Rs 20,000 (roughly 28 models),” says Sujay Misra, MD of AZ Research Partners (ET)

What’s the reason for this?

There are three things at the center of this revolution. These three things are what I call the triple convergence. Availability of 3G, social networking and cheap software/hardware are at the center of this revolution. Google’s Android operating system, which has chosen India as its next destination, is the axis driving this surge.

The preferred choice: Touch screen +3G + Android

Google is pushing handset manufacturers like Micromax, Spice and Videocon to bring down the price of hardware and yet run its free Android operating system. The handset manufacturers now have one less thing to worry about – Software and the app store. Android, which has become a popular mobile operating system and gained a 19 percent overall market share, is brimming with applications. Its app store has more than 70,000 apps and more are being added every day. Android has also opened up its paid app store to India and 30 other countries.

Micromax, which broke into the top 5 league, is set to launch an Android phone with a price tag of Rs. 5,000 ($110). Videocon has launched its Zeus phone which runs Android. Spice has lined up two Android phones and a tablet. All these are in the price range of Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 10,000. HTC, Samsung and Motorola have their own Android offerings, and most of them are in the sub-15k range.

There could be multiple definitions of a smart phone. After analyzing the recent launches, a smart phone can be defined with the following specifications :

Top 10 Specs for Smartphones in India :

  1. 3G
  2. Touchscreen
  3. 3 megapixel or higher camera
  4. Video playing capability including mp4.
  5. Audio playing capability
  6. Runs Android or runs an app rich operating system.
  7. Wi-Fi+Bluetooth
  8. Memory – Min of 2GB. Expandable upto 32 GB.
  9. Battery life : 5 hours of talk time minimum. Few days of standby time.
  10. FM Radio – A must. Hard to be ignored.

Who will win this smartphone race?

There is no doubt that Google’s Android is all set to win this race. Android will become the most popular OS and will probably narrow the gab between it and BlackBerry OS and the iPhone OS. India’s very own handset manufacturers are set for a big win. Micromax and Spice, which broke into the top 5, will try to close down the gap with Samsung and probably eat more of Nokia’s share. And Nokia, which is already bleeding, is set for more bleeding. Though it has competing products to offer, Nokia cannot just compete with the sheer volume and the price of the Indian cousins. Nokia’s new operating system won’t stand a chance with Android.

Android and its army of handset manufacturers like Spice, Micromax and Videocon are set for a big win this festive season.

Let me leave you with the stats by Admob for May 2010.

As you can see both the OS and the smartphones are dominated by Nokia. Come 2011, this picture could look totally different.