June 28, 2016

Micromax eyes regional language users to grow market share

Business Standard

Domestic mobile handset maker Micromax is looking to tap regional language users.

This is part of a bid to grow its market share in the entry smartphone segment, 80 per cent of its revenue and where competition has become fierce.

After the initial success of its regional language-enabled entry phones, including Unite 3, the firm on Monday launched two new devices under this series, Unite 4 and Unite 4 Pro. These use the next version of the regional language operating system, Indus 2.0 OS.

The Unite series, says the company, is its most successful range, grossing a little over 2.5 million units in sales. Overall, the company has sold almost four million regional language-enabled devices, via 35 models.

"What we are looking at right now is how do we continue to grow and hold on to our leadership position in India on phones," Shubhajit Sen, Chief Marketing Officer, Micromax Informatics told Business Standard. "One thing that we have learnt is a lot of our consumers from tier-II towns are hesitant to move to smartphones because of the language."

"The Canvas Unite series with Unite 3 having Indus OS earlier version has been a success story for us," he said.

The company has extended the partnership with Indus OS for its upgraded version for Unite 4 and Unite 4 Pro. With this, the company is planning to add about 4 million new users for its regional language enabled smartphones over the next one year, Sen said. All entry level mobiles including Bolt model will have Indus OS soon.

"This will make 10 per cent of the 40 million devices that Mircromax expects to sell over the next 12 months. This can potentially go up to 20 per cent," he added.

"Currently, it is not a very big market, but language enabled smartphones, we think, is going to expand dramatically. We have more than 90 per cent market share in the regional language segment, given the fact that we are the only one playing seriously in this segment," he said. "We expect our regional language smartphone segment to grow by 60-70 per cent in a year's time."

Apart from the existing smartphone users who prefer regional languages, both, Micromax and Indus OS are targeting 300 million first-time smartphone users in India who are willing to move to smartphones over the next three years but haven't because of the language barrier. With close to four million users, Indus OS recently became the number two mobile operating system in the country.

"We are adding close to half a million users every month and we expect to double this number within the next six months, with an aim to reach 100 million customers by 2018," said Vikas Sharma, Chief Business Officer, Indus OS.

The upgraded Indus 2.0 OS comes preloaded with a complete smartphone ecosystem in 12 regional languages, including the newly-added Urdu and Assamese and contains features such as Indus Swipe and hybrid keyboard. It also comes with a text-to-speech capability that allows users to translate any text on the smartphone into audio in any of the offered six Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali and Telugu.

But, since the partnership is not exclusive, and Indus OS is looking to partner with other smartphone manufacturers to achieve its vision to reach 100 million users by 2018, Micromax may get an early mover advantage into the segment.

Due to the lack of support for vernacular multiple languages supported by apps and user interface in smartphones, India is still an underpenetrated market with just 23 per cent of the population owning a smartphone, said Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at Counterpoint Research. "This calls for a new category of smartphones, especially designed with deeper and multiple languages support for the next million users looking to buy their next smartphones."

According to IDC, in the first quarter of 2016, Micromax retained second position with a market share of 12.6 per cent.