The smartphone market in India is nascent, yet growing very fast. Just to give a hint of what the potential is, Android sales grew 500% in India last year. And the case is same with several other emerging economies. It is certain that more and more people want a smartphone, yet they do not want to spend a lot of money. Put another way, the average sale price of a mobile phone is low in India, but people do want smart phones. The growth of Android and success of devices like the Samsung Galaxy Y is only an indicator to this success of low cost phones in India.
Nokia Lumia 610 In India
Now, I am compelled to think about this as the Nokia Lumia 610 launches in India. It was announced yesterday that the Nokia Lumia 610 price in India would would be roughly Rs 12000. Some estimates say Rs 11,000 would be the street price. And what specifications does a consumer get at that price?
A full touch screen smartphone with a pretty usable and refreshing Windows phone 7 UI, 800 MHz processor, 256MB RAM and a 5MP camera. Not bad at all! That’s the kind of devices that led to 500% growth for Android in India last year. Lets take a look at Apple’s strategy in this market.
Apple certainly hasn’t seen 500% growth for the iPhone in India, but the growth would still be healthy. Despite the iPhone 4 selling for a minimum of Rs 35,000 and the 4S going upwards of 40k mark (compare that with a Rs 7200 Samsung Galaxy Young or the Lumia 610) the iPhone 3GS continued to sell at Rs 19,500. That’s Apple’s game and opportunity as well.
Apple certainly won’t release low cost iPhones just for the sake of pleasing the emerging economies. But at the same time they do realise that the opportunity is huge. So what to do? Well, just keep selling the old hardware for a discount! The iPhone 3GS is pretty usable even today, but far from competitive in hardware terms. But as Cupertino releases the next iPhone (the new iPhone?) and the 3GS goes obsolete, the ray of hope for tapping the low cost market still remains.
I use an iPhone 4 today and it is due to get an iOS 6 update (so is the 3GS). It has a decent processor, Infinity blade or Angry birds, it plays it well on the Retina Display. The design is still top notch and premium. The 5MP shooter is pretty good and it does 720p videos. A discounted iPhone 4 at Rs 20,000 mark would severely exploit the mid-range smartphone market. Something that Apple needs and they are in a position to do that.
Be sure, I am not asking Apple to compete with the low cost Androids or Windows phones in volumes. Thats not their model, thats not what they can do. But what they can do is surely realise its full potential. The iPhone 4 remains a damn good smartphone even in 2012 and would exist in many pockets even in 2013!