Xiaomi takes retail FDI to next stage in India, sets up company-owned retail store

Chinese smartphone major Xiaomi on Wednesday opened its first company-owned brick-and-mortar Mi Home store in India taking its retail foreign direct investment (FDI) plans to the next stage after started selling directly to consumers from its own app and e-commerce site, The store opened shutters in Bengaluru, Xiaomi India magaing director Manu Kumar Jain tweeted on Wednesday. “Mi Fans can experience vast array of products that we offer globally – smartphones, Mi TVs, Mi Projector, Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, Mi Washing Machine, Mi Heater, Mi Bike, Mi Scooter, Mi Ninebot & a lot more. This is a COCO (Co. Owned Co. Operated) store. This is an opportunity to take your valuable feedback about the next cool #Xiaomi product to launch in India,” he tweeted. 

(ET, Sep 26, 2018)

Import of mobile phones fell by half in fiscal 2017-18: Foxconn chief

India currently produces 225 million phones valued at Rs 1,32,000 crore a year, which amounts to 12 phones a second, said Josh Foulger, Country Head & Managing Director, Foxconn International Holding, India. Addressing the Advantage India Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Messe Munchen GmbH, Foulger said: “India today is the second largest producer of mobile phones, a distant second to China, which produces 900 million phones a year.” Elaborating on the growth of the mobile sector in India, Foulger said in financial year 2017-18 the country’s mobile phone imports reduced by more than half and the import of completely-built-units came down from 78 per cent to 18 per cent.

(BS, Sep 26, 2018)

Xiaomi scales up ‘Make in India

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has scaled up manufacturing in India over the last three years. Now it has the capacity to roll out two phones every second, said Raghu Reddy, Head, Category and Online Sales, Xiaomi India. From one factory in 2015, the company has six located across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, he told newspersons at the launch of three new smart phones — Redmi 6, Redmi 6A and Redmi 6 Pro. “This year, we have started making printed circuit boards that account for 50 per cent of the value of the phone. About 50 per cent of the phones that we are shipping come with locally manufactured PCB. We want to be in a place by the end of the year, where 100 per cent of phones that we are shipping out of the country have locally manufactured PCBs,” he said. Xiaomi India is also customising phones for India. This is not about software tweaks but about the phone itself. For instance, the new phones launched today have dual pyrolytic graphite sheets to dissipate heat faster. The sheets help reduce the surface temperature by two degrees. When the ambient temperature is 40-45 degrees, two degrees can hurt the user while speaking. The sheets also increase battery efficiency and battery life, he said.

(BusinessLine, Sep 07, 2018)

Xiaomi Bows to India Security Concerns

Xiaomi Corpis now storing data generated in India on local servers, after the nation’s government indicated that concerns about security breaches may lead to rules mandating domestic data storage for overseas smartphone firms. Since July 1, all new Indian user data have been stored on local servers provided by Inc. and Microsoft Corp., while all existing data will be fully migrated to local servers by mid-September, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone-maker said on its corporate blog Monday, posting a statement dated Friday. Xiaomi said it had previously been storing user data on servers in the U.S. and Singapore.

(Caixin, Sep 03, 2018)

Govt re-skilling IT talent in data analytics space

With IT and telecom industry on the cusp of a data revolution, the need for a skilled workforce, especially in data analytics segment has assumed critical importance.

There is a talent deficit in data/analytics segment, as the education system is yet to adapt to the latest technological shift which will completely alter the landscape of the industry, according to experts. There is a massive flow of data over internet which is expected to increase manifold with the advent of new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), virtual reality, robotic process automation, blockchain amongst others.

With increasing dependency of entities/institutions across sectors on data, there is a greater need for cyber security as data consumption and complexities rise.  Data analytics is fast becoming an integral part of organisations due to factors such as improved efficiencies, greater transparency and speed, and a way of reducing costs. It also enable companies to explore new business/revenue streams with much efficiency.

(DNA, Aug 09, 2018)

Apple set to allow apps to check spam on iPhone

Apple seems to have decided to relent in India and fall in line with telecom regulator Trai’s demand to allow an anti-spam app that tackles the menace of unwanted calls and messages. Sources said the electronics giant has decided to make India-specific changes in its upcoming operating system upgrade — iOS12 — to be launched around September.  The new version will add “certain functionalities” that would make it convenient for users to handle Trai’s D-Not-Disturb (DND 2.0) app effectively and report about spammers promptly.  “It will make it easier to identify the spammers, and will make it smoother for users to report about violators to Trai or any other authority that has been earmarked./  This is not possible at this moment,” sources said.

(TOI, Aug 08, 2018)

Reliance Jio says not importing 4G feature phones

Reliance Jio has rubbished allegations that it was trying to evade import duties by taking alternative trade routes to ship in its 4G feature phone JioPhone, saying it manufactures all those handsets in India. 
Jio was responding to allegations by Indian mobile handset companies led by The Mobile Association (TMA) which claimed that Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries NSE -2.15 % was not making the JioPhone locally.  JioPhone devices are not made in India. As per our understanding, JioPhone devices are all imported from China. The telecom service provider (Jio) is now planning to import large volumes via Indonesia to enjoy 0% customs duty,” Bhupesh Raseen, chairman of mobile advisory committee at TMA, told ET. 
(ET, July 16, 2018)

Oppo India unveils A3S, a budget smartphone, to attract youngsters

Oppo’s A3s packs an AI-enabled selfie camera and "music party" feature for the price tag of Rs. 10,990, available in red and dark purple colour options. Oppo India on Friday unveiled a new mid-range smartphone Oppo A3sfor a price tag of Rs 10,990, the Firstpost reported. The smartphone gets a dual rear camera setup along with an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled front camera for enhanced selfie experience.  The Chinese phonemaker aims to target the young buyers with this new and affordable model equipped with “music party” feature. This function would allow users to connect multiple smartphones with versions of Oppo’s own Android-based ColorOS 5.1 or above to play the same track using hotspot, eliminating the need for speakers.

(, July 16, 2018)

Samsung bet big on winning the Indian smartphone manufacturing race

Samsung on Monday launched what is being touted by the company as “the world's largest phone factory”. To some it may have come as a surprise that the sprawling manufacturing facility is located in Noida, an area not very far away from the bustling Indian capital, New Delhi.

It's a vote of confidence by the South Korean conglomerate in Asia's third-biggest economy and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and South Korean president Moon Jae-in very rightly led the inauguration ceremony to mark the significance of the occasion. The investment of hundreds of millions of dollars by Samsung represents a leap forward for India, which has aspirations to become a global manufacturing hub.

The Samsung smart phone plant, perhaps, is first among many to big-ticket ventures to come to India, which is very keen to boost the foreign direct investments and diversify its largely agrarian economy.

At the event, HC Hong, the chief executive of Samsung India, spoke about the company's “dream of making India a global export hub for mobile phones”.

(The National, July 15, 2018)

Mobile wallet transactions rise 16% in May: RBI's monthly bulletin

Mobile wallet transactions surged in May with a 16 per cent growth in volume and a 22 per cent rise in value over the previous month, according to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) monthly bulletin.

Mobile wallet transactions for May stood at 326.02 million in volume and Rs 142.39 billion in value, against 279.29 million and Rs 116.95 billion respectively in April.

The wallet industry has faced a rocky path during the year due to the rise of United Payments Interface (UPI) as well as stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) rule enforced upon them. This had resulted in a drop in wallet transactions over the past few months.

(BS, July 11, 2018)

Big step for Samsung: Can they take on Chinese Rivals

When Finnish phone-maker Nokia had their big fall from grade, South Korean Samsung Electronics was sitting pretty. The company was proving to be Apple Computer’s biggest competitor in the high-end smartphone space, Samsung’s series of high-end Galaxy S smartphones have been the iPhone’s biggest rivals for years.

In India, Samsung became the top-dog in the smartphone space just as the market boomed. Some Indian firms, such as Micromax also got in the game by importing devices from China, many of them from a company known as BBK Electronics. For a while, these Indian brands were Samsung’s biggest competitors.

But the Chinese firms got wise to Indian importers and entered the Indian market on their own. And today, BBK Electronics’ three brands Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus along with China’s new consumer electronics giant Xiaomi have come to dominate the Indian smartphone market thanks to a combination of huge advertising spending as well as affordability. Xiaomi with their low-cost RedMi brand dominates the Indian smartphone arena today.

 (The Pioneer, July 10, 2018)

Samsung puts Noida on top with world's biggest mobile factory

In front are open fields with grazing cattle, to the left are under-construction residential societies and to the right is its existing facility - this where Samsung has set up what is the world's largest mobile factory.  Not China or South Korea -- and certainly not the US -- the tag of housing the world's largest mobile factory has straight away put Noida on top of the world manufacturing map when it comes to consumer electronics.  The new 35-acre Samsung Electronics facility at Sector 81 in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in landing together at a quickly-prepared helipad adjacent to the factory to officially inaugurate it on Monday.  One of the first electronics manufacturing facilities set up in the country in the early 1990s, the plant started by manufacturing TVs in 1997. The current mobile phone manufacturing unit was added in 2005. 

 (ET, Jul 08, 2018)

How India And Ratan Tata Helped Xiaomi Set Up Biggest IPO Since Alibaba

Ratan Tata acquired a tiny stake in Xiaomi Corp. in April 2015 as the smartphone maker, once called Apple of China, was trying to regain ground it had ceded to compatriot brands like Oppo, Vivo and Huawei. Its billionaire co-founder Lei Jun, having launched the first phone in India about a year earlier, was also building operations in Asia’s third-largest economy. Both bets paid off. Xiaomi is now the country’s biggest smartphone maker, and No. 4 globally after Samsung Electronics Co., Apple Inc. and Huawei. India is its biggest market outside China, driving international sales that contribute more than a quarter of its revenue.

India’s biggest role in reviving the fortunes of Xiaomi is that it provided the much-needed momentum, Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research, told BloombergQuint over the phone. “In 2015-16 when the market slipped for Xiaomi, it was India which started gaining business because of Redmi 3 and then its momentum was carried by Redmi 4, which in turn helped the company to regain confidence to venture into new countries.”

(Bloomberg, June 19, 2018)

Online platforms capture 38% smartphone sales in India: Counterpoint report

E-commerce platforms captured a record 38% share of the total smartphone channels in India in the first quarter of 2018, driven by exclusive online launches and strong promotions, a new report said.  According to Counterpoint Research's "Market Monitor" service, Flipkart continued its dominance in the online smartphone market with 54% share, with Amazon at second place with 30% followed by with 14% market share. iaomi led online platforms with a share of 57% during Q1 2018, followed by Samsung (14%) and Huawei (Honor) (8%)."The E-commerce segment grew faster than the offline segment during Q1 2018. While the smartphone shipments in offline segment declined by 3%, online segment grew by 4% (Year-on-Year)," said Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

(ET, June 16, 2018)

Second year in a row: Most courses discontinued are from telecom engineering

Electronics and telecommunication branch of engineering, also approved as electronics and communication by some universities, continues to witness highest number of discontinued courses across India. As per data available with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), apex body for technical education in the country, around 115 electronics and telecommunication courses will no longer be available to students. These include 40 diploma, 60 degree and 15 post-graduate courses. Last year, 173 courses — 84 degree, 76 diploma and 13 post-graduate — were discontinued.  Electronics and telecommunication engineering comprises designing and manufacturing hardware and software systems that run communication devices such as radio, mobile, television and computer. Computer engineering and its related branches of engineering have witnessed the second highest discontinuation of courses this year. Nearly 21 diploma, 12 degree and 43 post-graduate computer engineering courses, which includes computer science, engineering and technology, were discontinued for 2018-19 academic year.

(HT, June 15, 2018)

Mukesh Ambani's Jio gains to only bring more pain for rivals

India’s older mobile operators Bharti AirtelNSE -0.90 %, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have so far managed to hold on to — and even grow — their subscriber market shares despite new entrant Reliance Jio’s price onslaught, mainly by acquiring customers of smaller exiting telcos. But now they will face a tougher task to protect their turf because most subscribers of smaller players such as Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Telenor India and Aircel — which are being shut down or sold off — have already moved to the larger operators. 
“When the dust settles down and subscribers from beleaguered smaller players have been mopped by the Big Three (Vodafone-Idea combine, Airtel and Jio), the tussle for supremacy will resume,” said Sandip Das, senior advisor at telecom consulting firm Analysys Mason. “With Jio’s ambitions to lead, the market will continue to see aggressive moves,” he said.

(ET, June 08, 2018)

Trai suggests allocation of 10MHz of 4G airwaves for free for use by relief agencies

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended allocation of 10 MHz of 4G airwaves for free to be used in a network to be used in emergency situations like maintenance of law and order, protection of lif and property and disaster relief as part of an upgraded nationwide broadband based system.

The regulator said the proposed next-generation Publi Protection and Disaster Releif (PPDR) communication networks should be funded by the government and created in metros, border districts, disaster-rrprone areas and sensitive regions such as Jammu & Kashmir and the northeast.

(ET, June 05, 2018)

Samsung’s Prashanth Mani likely to join Lenovo-Motorola India replacing Sudhin Mathur

Prashanth Mani is set to join Lenovo-Motorola group’s smartphone business as India country head, replacing veteran Sudhin Mathur who stepped down in April, three senior industry executives said. Mani has put in his papers at Samsung India, where he was vice president of retail and go-to-market for the mobile division. His immediate mandate will be to turn around the Chinese electronics company’s smartphone business in India and bring it back into the top three. Mani, an engineering-MBA graduate, graduate, had a five-year stint in Samsung India, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was previously with Nokia India. 

Mani declined to speak to ET, saying he is not authorized to talk to the media at Samsung. Emails sent to Lenovo-Motorola and Samsung India did not elicit any response till press time. Lenovo-Motorola slipped one spot to the fourth place in October-December 2017, behind Xiaomi, Samsung and Vivo, according to US-based market tracker International Data Corporation. In January-March, it was not among the top five, with Oppo and China’s Transsion Group moving up. 

(ET, June 04, 2018)

Coolpad open to taking Xiaomi to court in India

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad is open to moving Indian courts against IPO-bound rival Xiaomi over patent infringement, after the company filed seven such cases in China in two different courts since January this year. 

Coolpad’s chief intellectual property officer Nancy Zhang told ET that Indian laws protected patent holders’ interest, which made the South Asian nation’s courts a strong option for litigation, citing the example of Ericsson suing Xiaomi in alocal court which lead to an interim bar on sales of specific Xiaomi phones.  “India is one of the key markets, and India has the reputation for protecting intellectual property rights, has better laws and systems to protect patent holders.  As we saw in the Ericsson-Xiaomi case, we feel that India is a good ground for protecting patents,” Zhang said when asked whether the company would file a lawsuit here. 

(ET, June 01, 2018)

iPhone display makers dip on report Apple will go all-OLED in 2018

Apple Inc has decided to use OLED screens in all three new iPhone models planned for next year, according to South Korea’s Electronic Times – a report that sent shares in Japan Display tumbling 10%.

Japan Display, one of the main suppliers of iPhone liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, has lagged its South Korean rivals in OLED production.  By contrast, shares in LG Display Co. Ltd. Surged.  Apple recently started planning new iPhone models and decided all three models would have organic light-emitting diode panels, the report said, citing multiple unnamed industry sources.

(ET, May 30, 2018)

India is at start of e-mobility S Curve: ABB CEO

For e-mobility to happen, you need four building blocks. In India, we have a very strong local value end. In the renewables integration, more than 50% of the solar power is powered up with ABB technology. So, I think we are the ideal partner for India to really drive e-mobility going forward. We are also the ideal partner for car OEMs, to make sure that cars are rolling with the right charging infrastructure that we have. 

We will do this as we have done in all the new businesses that we brought in India. First, we will have the pilots and then we will localize the technology, put it into our local value chain, and have full local value and have job creation. Look at solar, we brought in global technology, we localized the technology, we set up a local value chain, invested in manufacturing, and today we are fully integrated. In the rail sector, we have done the same. 

(ET, May 27, 2018)

Reliance Jio 4G struggles in rural markets of India

Reliance Jio, promoted by India’s richest business-man Mukesh Ambani, has enhanced its rural presence with the 4G subscriber base touching 49.734 million in rural areas in March 2018 from 46.606 million in February 2018.  Reliance Jio, the fourth largest telecom operator in India, added 9.429 million 4G users across India during this period. That means Reliance Jio added nearly 6 million 4G customers in non-rural areas as compared with nearly 3 million in rural locations. Jio does not have 2G and 3G presence. It will be launching 5G.  Reliance Jio is the largest 4G operator in India with 186.560 million subscribers on its all-India LTE network.

(Telecomlead, May 27, 2018)

Airtel says SC dismisses Reliance Jio plea on IPL ads

Bharti Airtel said the Supreme Court had dismissed Reliance Jio Infocomm’s petition challenging a May 10 Delhi High Court order granting the Sunil Mittal-led carrier a partial reprieve over its Indian Premier League (IPL) multimedia advertising campaign. “The Supreme Court has on Friday dismissed the petition of Reliance Jio, which had filed a special leave petition (SLP) against the order of the division bench of the Delhi High Court, which had set aside the single bench order of the Delhi HC,” Bharti Airtel said in a media statement.

(ET, May 19, 2018)

Telecom companies ask TRAI not to penalise them over minor service issues

Telecom companies have asked the sector regulator to take a pragmatic view on levying penalties, especially over marginal deviations from quality of service benchmarks as some of those may have been caused by natural events such as floods or heavy rains.

Carriers have argued that deviations may have been due to unforeseen circumstances, system failures or factors beyond the control of the carriers, for which they should not be penalised, and have sought for individual hearings to explain their stand.

(ET, May 14, 2018)

AI could smoothen your interactions with mobile service providers

If you get frustrated at the very thought of connecting with your mobile service provider for the time it takes to complete an interaction, there is hope. A new Ericsson report on Monday said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation have the potential to solve such issues with minimal effort.

Currently, it takes customers on average 2.2 attempts and 4.1 days to successfully complete an interaction with their mobile service providers, said the Ericsson “Consumer and IndustryLab” report. For the study, titled “Zero Touch Customer Experience”, responses from approximately 7,000 online interviews with smartphone users aged 16 years and over across the globe were analysed.

The results showed that consumers expect telecom service providers to match leading digital consumer experiences.

More than half (56 per cent) of the smartphone users expect operators to anticipate their needs even before they realise what they are, it said.

The new zero-touch methods, such as those used in voice-enabled home assistant devices such as Amazon Alexa, can do away with need of typing, clicking and swiping on our devices.

(Dailyworld, May 14, 2018)

IIT Madras ropes in Keysight Technologies for 5G test solutions

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has roped in the US-based Keysight Technologies to provide fifth-generation or 5G technology test solutions for government-driven test bed coming up at the southern metropolitan.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is setting up an open test bed at IIT Madras, with the Union Budget allocation of Rs 224 crore towards it to foster innovation, and research and development (R&D) activities in India on a collaborative model. The Narendra Modi-led government is aiming to roll out 5G by 2020, in line with other advanced markets worldwide.

The California-headquartered electronic measurement firm, however, did not reveal the deal size or the revenue opportunity arising out from the new contract it bagged but said that it was a ‘significant milestone’ for it.

(ET, May 08, 2018)

Consulting international agencies, experts on spectrum auction: TRAI chief

Telecom regulator TRAI is in the midst of consulting various international agencies and experts, and hopes to finalize its recommendation on spectrum auction "soon", Chairman R S Sharma has said. Asked about the status of recommendation on spectrum auction, Sharma said that a review meeting on the same was held in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week.

"There is a lot of work being done. We are consulting international agencies, consultants we well as experts and we will come out with our recommendations soon," Sharma told . But he declined to give a specific timeframe for the finalization of recommendations on the issue. The government is planning to hold the largest-ever spectrum auction of 3,000 MHz radio waves in the upcoming sale.

(PTI, May 06, 2018)

DoT targets $100 B Investment by 2020

The telecom department (DoT) has unveiled the broad contours of the next policy, which will aim to attract investments worth $100 billion by 2020 in the digital communications sector, create four million additional jobs and enhance the sector’s contribution to 8% of India’s GDP from about 6% in 2017, while adhering to the principles of net neutrality. Under The National Digital Communications Policy 2018, the government plans to optimally price spectrum, review levies such as licence fees and spectrum usage charges as well as M&A rules to ease exits while also taking a fresh look at spectrum sharing, leasing and trading guidelines, as part of its approach that spectrum is a key natural resource to be used for public benefit.

(ET, May 02, 2018)

Govt. may ask firms to set-up servers locally by 2022 under NTP

The government, under new National Telecom Policy, may come up with provisions on data sovereignty and ask all companies hosting data of Indians to set-up servers in the country by 2022, according to official sources aware of the development.

Under the provision of NTP 2018, the draft of which is scheduled to be released on May 1, the government may ask telecom service providers to ensure that messages, emails etc. of Indian citizens are kept within boundaries of the country unless addressed to people staying overseas.

"The NTP is being framed with vision to give access of all services to people at click of a button. For most of the things like education, government services and even health people should not need to visit physically. There will be lot of data generated for all this. Hence, NTP is likely to propose setting up of all servers hosting data of Indian citizens and entities to be kept in local servers by 2022," the source said.

(TOI, Apr 30, 2018)

Morgan Stanley says draft of new telecom policy shows fibre is a priority

Brokerage firm, Morgan Stanley says the draft of the new telecom policy has provided for increased fibre roll outs, additional spectrum that will quicken 4G/ 5G spread , simplified regulatory framework , made provisions for local manufacturing and aims bring in comprehensive data protection regime.

The telecom department on Wednesday unveiled the broad contours of the next telecom policy which will aim to attract investments worth $100 billion by 2020 in the digital communications sector, create four million additional jobs and enhance the sector’s contribution to 8% of India’s GDP from about 6% in 2017, while adhering to the principles of net neutrality.

(ET, May 02, 2018)

India mobile manufacturing industry to touch Rs 132000 cr by 2018: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Indian mobile manufacturing industry is expected to touch Rs 1,32,000 crore by end of 2018, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister, of Electronics & Information Technology.

In India, about 110 million mobile phones were manufactured in 2015-16 as compared to 60 million in 2014-15 thereby recording over 90% growth.. Moreover, India’s mobile manufacturing industry produced mobile phones worth Rs 54000 crore in FY15-16 as compared to Rs 18900 crore in FY14-15. By the end of 2017, the number reached Rs 94000 crore.

(ET, Apr 26, 2018)

Nokia focusses on North-East for ‘faster growth

Mobile phone-maker Nokia, which re-entered Indian markets in June last year, is looking at a “faster growth” in the North-East. Apart from leveraging its brand recall, Nokia is ramping up the portfolio spanning all price points (across feature and smartphones) as its USP in the region.

Typically, the North-East includes Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Sikkim.

According to Amit Goyal, Business Head, North and East, HMD Global — makers of Nokia phones — the company is already ramping up its distributor network there with focus on smaller towns.

(BusinessLIne, Apr 25, 2018)

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 launched in India: Price, specs and more

Taiwanese electronics company Asus launched a new smartphone in affordable range in India in exclusive partnership with Flipkart.

The smartphone, named Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 will come in three variant. The Zenfone Max Pro has been priced at Rs 10,999 for the 3GB + 32 GB variant. The device with 4GB + 64GB variant will come at Rs12,999, the variant with 6GB + 64GB will come at Rs 14,999.

The phone sports a 5.99-inch FullHD and it will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor.

(Zee Media Bureau, Apr 23, 2018)

Xiaomi, India’s largest smartphone maker cruising along in startup mode

Xiaomi, India’s largest smartphone maker intends to keep its “startup culture” intact even as it expands into new categories such as TVs.

The Chinese company has not defined performance parameters or sales targets for its 400-plus employees in India, making it a one-of-a-kind organization in the Rs 1.5 lakh-crore mobile and consumer electronics industry, where chasing numbers is the norm. Xiaomi entered India four years ago and now counts the country as its second-largest market, after China. It moved into a new office in Bengaluru earlier this week, with a capacity for 750 seats, a likely indicator of plans to ramp up the headcount according to three senior industry executives.

(ET, Apr 20, 2018)

Samsung Electronics Selected as Most Trusted Brand in India

Samsung Electronics has been chosen as the most trusted brand in India, a mega market of 1.2 billion people, for the second consecutive year. LG also ranked third from two years in a row, enhancing its brand value

On April 18, the Economic Times, a major economic daily in India, reported that Samsung Electronics was selected as the most trusted brand in India according to a survey conducted by TRA Research, a market research agency in India. Since being established in Mumbai, India in 2011, TRA Research has conducted a brand survey and announced the results every year.

Samsung, which ranked 18th in 2016, has come in first since last year. Japan's Sony and LG nabbed the second and third spots, respectively. India’s Tata Group placed fourth. Apple sat fifth, one notch down from last year. PC maker Dell came in sixth and Japanese automaker Honda, seventh. Nike, a sportswear maker, climbed by 29 notches to No. 8. PC maker Hewlett-Packard and automaker Maruti Suzuki finished ninth and tenth, respectively. Oppo, China's smartphone maker, landed on 11th place and Google, 18th place.

(Business Korea, Apr 19, 2018)

Make in India: Lemon Mobiles to invest Rs 150 crores in new manufacturing facility

Noida-based Lemon Mobiles will be spending Rs 150 crores in setting up a manufacturing facility for mobile phones and LED televisions, the firm in a statement Wednesday said.

The production unit, according to the company, would be equipped to produce 1 million mobile handsets every month, and is expected to become operational by 2020.

The firm also claimed to hit Rs 1,000 crore top line in next three years, and said that it would also company come up with an R&D and testing lab in Shenzhen, China to design the next-generation mobile handsets.

(ET, Apr 18, 2018)

Intex steps up phone manufacturing investments in India

Nidhi Markanday, director at Intex Technologies, has revealed how some of the latest guidelines in India are encouraging phone companies to step up manufacturing in the country.

Intex, one of the leading device companies in India, is setting up a new manufacturing facility in Kasna, Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh) as part of its strategy to consolidate all the Noida manufacturing capacity at a single location. The Kasna manufacturing unit will have mobile production capacity of 40 million per annum against the current capacity of 2 million per month.

The expansion plans of Intex reflect the consumer demand in India. India’s mobile subscriber base of over 1.05 billion creates enormous opportunities for handset manufacturing companies in India. The Indian electronics industry is anticipated to reach $400 billion in 2022 with projected growth of compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.4 percent during 2012-2020.

(TelecomLead, Mar 19, 2018)

Huawei to expand handset making capacity in India

China’s Huawei Technologies is set to significantly ramp up handset production capacity at its Chennai factory and also increase the number of its original equipment maker (OEM) partners as part of its efforts to boost local smartphone manufacturing in a bid to target a 10%-plus market share in India from the present level of about 2%. 

“We have given a commitment to India’s telecom minister Manoj Sinha to deepen our ‘Make in India’ engagement and build local capacity, and India will play a much bigger role towards our goal of becoming the world’s third-largest smartphone brand in the next five years,” Peter Zhai, president, Huawei India’s Consumer Business Group, told ET on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress 

(ET, Mar 18, 2018)

Trai views on promoting telecom equipment mfg in 1 month

Telecom regulator Trai today said it hopes to finalize in about a month the recommendations on promoting telecom equipment manufacturing in the country. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) held open house discussions with industry representatives on the issue today.

"I think we will take about a month or so to firm up our views on this," Trai Chairman, R S Sharma told reporters after the open house meeting. The deliberations revolved around short to long term policy measures that are required to boost innovation and productivity of local telecom manufacturing.

In its consultation paper issued in September last year, Trai had also asked whether patent laws as also mechanism for certification and testing in India were sufficient to address the issues of local manufacturers.

It had also sought industry's suggestions on fiscal incentives that can propel domestic manufacturing in telecom.

(BS, Mar 14, 2018)

Apple supplier Wistron to invest Rs 682 crore to set up new manufacturing facility

Wistron, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that makes iPhones for Apple in India, is set to invest Rs 682 crore on expanding operations, having got approval to acquire additional land near Bengaluru, a senior Karnataka minister said. 

“The industries department had cleared Wistron’s proposal for about 43 acres in the state… they will invest about $100 million,” RV Deshpande, Karnataka’s minister of large, medium industries and infrastructure, told ET. The minister said earlier the company plans to make Apple smartphones in the new facility. 

(ET, Mar 14, 2018)

Telcos should focus on improving services instead of fighting: Manoj Sinha

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha has asked India’s top carriers to focus on improving services instead of fighting among themselves, especially now that the government has cleared measures for immediate relief, which should drive investments. 

“The most important thing for the telcos to do now is to give good services to consumers,” the minister told ET. He was responding to a question about the bitter fight between Bharti AirtelBSE 0.19 %, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular on one side and Reliance Jio Infocomm on the other on issues including the need for financial relief. 

(ET, Mar 09, 2018)

Government approves relief package for telecom sector

The government on Wednesday cleared a relief package for the debt-ridden telecom sector, giving more time to operators to pay for the spectrum bought in auctions.
It has also relaxed the spectrum holding limit for the telecom operators, according to an official spokesperson.

The package was cleared by the Cabinet today based on the recommendations of the Inter- 

 Ministerial Group (IMG) on the telecom sector.

(TOI, Mar 07, 2018)

Our focus is to bring exclusive and innovative products to India: Mani Kant Jain,

India is the fastest-growing e-commerce market and is expected to reach US$ 188 billion by 2025. The growth of the online segment can be attributed to our increasing dependency on smartphones for professional networking and personal requirements, easy availability of cost effective handsets, easy and interest free finance options for high cost handset purchase, low cost data and online availability of leading brands across tier 2 and 3 locations. It is estimated that the number of consumers who purchase online will cross 100 million by this year compared to 69 million users making online purchase in 2016.

(Newsbarons, Mar 10, 2018)

Handset makers may invest Rs 6,000 crore for more local inputs

India could see investments of up to $900 million (about Rs 6,000 crore) in the next two years from leading handset makers and global contract manufacturers that are seeking to increase the local content in their instruments by assembling printed circuit boards (PCBs) in the country. 
Industry insiders say that Chinese handset makers such as Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus, besides Indian players including Micromax and Lava, have earmarked higher investments to take advantage of the recently imposed duties on some components and the expected levy on imports of PCBs, which make up 50% of the cost of making a mobile phone. Further investments are also planned by contract manufacturers such as Foxconn and Dixon. 

(ET, Feb 20, 2018)

Import duty may be imposed on mobile phone gear from April 1

The government  is likely to impose basic customs duty on mobile phone components such as populated printed circuit boards (PCBs), camera modules and connectors from April 1, according to senior officials.  These products are currently imported without any levy.

Imported mobile handsets such as the latest iPhones have become costlier after the February 1 budget raised customs duty on the devices to 20% from 125%.  Domestic handset makers had expected the imposition of duty on components too in the budget.  Whether that will also lead to an increase in the price of phones will depend on manufacturers absorbing the levy or passing it on to consumers, experts said.

(ET, Feb 13, 2018)

Trai slams RCom for refusing to refund consumers’ balance

Telecom regulatory Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) slammed Reliance Communications for “usurping” un-spent pre-paid balances and security deposit of its mobile customers after operations were shut down, calling it “unethical, immoral and unjustified”.

(BS, Feb 07, 2018)

Budget Impact: iPhones costlier by up to Rs.3, 200

Apple raised the prices of all its mobile phones, except the iPhone SE, for the second time in two months, after the government increased basic customs duty (BCD), a move which increases pressure on the company to expand local manufacturing to local manufacturing to better compete and grow share in the world’s fastest growing market.

(ET, Feb 06, 2018)

DoT to float draft telecom policy in a week

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to float draft of the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 within a week for public comments, an official source said.

The draft (of the NTP 2018) is very likely to be issued within a week,” the source said.

The NTP 2018 is expected to present a growth road map  of the Indian telecom sector, which is reeling under a severe financial  stress, for a period of next five years.

(BS, Feb 05, 2018)

IPhone sales dip by 9% in India

Apple iPhone sales in India dipped in the October-December quarter.

According to Counterpoint Research, iPhone sales declined by 9 per cent in volume terms and 7 per cent in volume terms and 7 per cent by revenues during the quarter compared to the corresponding quarter last year.

The average selling price of an iPhone, however, went up in India in the quarter because of the launch of its most expensive iPhone X in November.

(BusinessLine, Feb 03, 2018)

Four Telcos battle it out for 150mn Mobile Users looking to port numbers

India’s top four telecom services providers are vying to sign up more than 150 million mobile users who may be looking to port their numbers, thanks to a rapid consolidation that has seen reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices exiting the market, and Aircel shrinking operations.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm are all coming up with new tariff plans in an effort to attract these customers, while also trying to keep their existing subscribers stick around.

(ET, Jan 08, 2018)

Tim Cook stumbles at his specialty, shipping Apple products on time

As Apple Inc.’s longtime chief operating officer, Tim Cook was known for ensuring that new products hit the market on schedule.

With Mr. Cook as CEO, though, Apple’s new gadgets are consistently late, prompting questions among analysts and other close observers about whether the technology giant is losing some of its competitive edge.

Of the three major new products since Mr. Cook became chief executive in 2011, both AirPods earbuds in 2016 and last year’s HomePod speaker missed Apple’s publicly projected shipping dates.  The Apple Watch, promised for early 2015, arrived late that April with lengthy wait times for delivery.  Apple also was delayed in supplying the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, two critical accessories for its iPad Pro.

(BS, Jan 08, 2018)

Trai targets $100-bn investment in communications sector

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking views of stakeholders on a New Telecom Policy, which is slated to be announced by March this year.

 Besides, the new telecom policy aims at achieving 900 million broadband connections at a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps, develop 10 million public Wi-Fi hotspots in the country and catapult India into the top-50 nations in terms of network readiness.

(, Jan 04, 2018)

India witnessed explosive growth in 4G data usage in 2017

Well, 2017 has been a wild run for telecom operators, experimenting with new data plans and tariffs, trying to retain and at the same time attract new users as well as venturing into the mobile phone segment.

And this was all due to what can be termed as "Jio Effect." Since Reliance Jio was introduced in September last year, the company not only showed tremendous growth by adding over 130 million subscribers but its business strategy also affected how other telecom service providers operated in the market. The company basically altered India's internet and telecom landscape forever.

(Gizbot, Dec 22, 2017)


Smartron invests in MiQasa to bolster IoT play in India

Smartron, the maker of smartphone and Internet of Things (IoT) products, said that it has invested in Hyderabad based IoT startup MiQasathat designs and develops range of smart things for home from smart switches, locks, cameras, lights, appliances and controls for home automation.

Founded in April 2015, MiQasa will now be christened tronX things, a Smartron company, according to an official statement. The team has so far designed and produced smart switchboards that are retrofit table to the existing home power systems and has been selling them across India for more than 6 months

(ET, Dec 21, 2017)

MediaTek announces smartphone design training programme in India

According to IANS, Grant Kuo, Managing Director of MediaTek India, said in a statement “Since opening our Noida office in 2004, we have seen expansive growth in India’s mobile market sparked by incredible talent emerging in the engineering and design fields,”.

The company is introducing three new specialised training modules in 2018 for radio frequency (RF), multimedia and system, respectively. We aim to provide a greater depth of specialisation and customisation to prepare India’s next generation of design engineers,” Kuo added.

The programme prepares design engineers and talented individuals in the mobile industry with tools, insights and expertise. “The impact of this crucial programme will surely continue to be felt across our nation in its second year,” Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, (MeitY) said in a statement. The training programme will kick off on January 19 and end on February 2.

Xiaomi eyes to set up more plants in India to add capacity

The company currently has three manufacturing plants — two for phones in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh and one for power banks in Noida. According to PTI, Xiaomi India,  vice-president Manu Jain said “We are definitely exploring. We want to add more capacity. We want to set up more plants, not just for phones, even for other categories like Mi-band. There are many other categories.

From July 2014 to the beginning of this year, the company has invested more than ₹3,000 crore in the country, Jain said. The company is making fresh investments as more factories, service centres, R&D centre are being set up, he said. The investment figures would be known by this year-end.

Xiaomi claimed it is the number one smartphone vendor in India, as per IDC’s latest Quarterly Smartphone Tracker, Q3 2017. With a market share of 23.5 per cent and having shipped 9.2 million smartphones in the quarter, it has become the fastest growing smartphone brand in India, the company said. Jain, meanwhile, allayed fears over the security of the Xiaomi phones.

“We don’t collect any user data. Not at all. We provide some internet services…which means the user has to say, yes I want to use them. Even when the consumer opting these services, the data is sent to servers, they are fully encrypted. There is no security risk“.

Mobile and Sprint work to save merger talks: WSJ

T-Mobile US and Sprint are working to salvage their $74 billion merger and could reach a deal within weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Parent companies Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank reached an impasse last week in their talks as SoftBank directors expressed doubts over giving up control of Sprint, sources told Reuters.

However, the Wall Street Journal said that T-Mobile US has made a revised offer, which Sprint is considering. Terms of the offer were not disclosed.

(TOI, Nov 04, 2017)

India’s smart city project not moving fast, need to involve enterprises, Nokia global executives

Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia has said that the Indian government’s ambitious Smart City programme is not moving as fast as expected, and suggested the need to involve enterprises to get speed.

“We have learned from other parts of the world that you don't have to go to the mayor or the city council in, but you need to go to the businesses like retail malls, utility companies, parking garages etc,” Rakesh Kushwaha, Global Head of IoT Business Unit, Nokia, told ET in an exclusive interaction with ET.

“When we looked at it from outside, we have been seeing the initiative for some time but it’s not moving as fast as you would expect it to move…so, getting enterprises involved in the city is always helpful,” he added.

(ET, Nov 13, 2017)

TRAI suggests norms for app-based calls

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposed that internet telephony calls originating from international out roamers should be routed through the gateway of licenced International Long Distance Operators (ILDOs).  It said international termination charges should be paid to the terminating access service provider.  The recommendations are meant for service providers holding valid telecom licences and exclude calls made from mobile apps such as Whatsapp, Viber and Google Duo.

(Business Line, Oct 25, 2017)

Telecom exposure of Tata group stands at Rs.47,000 crore

After its exit from  the consumer mobile business, the Tata group, which had invested Rs.47,208 crore In  in the past 15 years through equity and debt, would now have two businesses – enterprise business and retail fixed-line and broadband business.  Besides, it would have a 32 per cent stake  in Viom Networks.

Going by the announcement, Bharti Airtel would not take any debt liability of Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra (TTML), except for a small spectrum payout liability.

(BS, Oct 13, 2017)

Huwai looks to replicate its global success in India, hikes marketing spend

Chinese handset maker Huawei is aiming to more than double its smartphone sales in India this fiscal year backed by a higher focus on offline retail channel for its Honor brand of devices, and an increased marketing budget, as it aims to replicate its global success in India where it is yet to make a mark.

Allen Wang, director, Product Center at Huawei India Consumer Business Group, took a potshot at the strategy of its Chinese rivals Oppo and Vivo which have been spending top dollars on marketing, including through various sporting events, and paying higher margins fr better store visibilities to boost sales, a move which has helped them break into the top five smartphone brands.


(ET, June 13, 2017)

Tablet sales down on lack of promotional activities

Shipments of tablets to India declined 6% to 7.6 lakh units in the first quarter of 2017 from the previous three-month period, according to a report by research firm CMR.

Canada –headquartered Datawind led the list of manufacturers with a 34% market share, followed by iBall at the second spot with a 16% share and Samsung with 15%.

However, tablets supporting 4G and 3G technologies saw a sequential increase of 15% and 31%, respectively, during the quarter, while 2G and Wi-Fi-based tablets declined 62% and 33%, respectively.


(ET, June 13, 2017)

Panasonic to Exit Low-end Phones Under Chinese Fire

India's mobile-handset market is the latest theatre where East Asian rivalry is getting a vivid play. Such is the Chinese dominance at the bottom of the pyramid that Panasonic India is exiting the value end of the business -and scaling down its market-share goals.

Japan's Panasonic Corp., about a century-old powerhouse in consumer electronics, wouldn't sell feature-and entry-level smartphones in India any longer because of the intense competition from Chinese brands. In a strategy overhaul, Panasonic would also bring the distribution responsibility in-house, and pare down the market-share targets to about 5% in two years from initial projections running into two digits.

After exiting the price-sensitive value segment, Panasonic will focus on the country's fastest growing handset market where instruments are priced between ` . 14,000, the . 7,000 and ` company's India president Manish Sharma said. Panasonic India has also decided to establish its own distribution, and has ended the tie-up with the Jaina Group, which was tasked with re-selling Panasonic handsets in India for the past four years. Jaina also makes the Karbonn brand of mobile phones.

“We are building a large team for mobile-phone distribution. Jaina will continue as our sourcing partner for the handsets, which are manufactured by third-party manufacturer Dixon Technologies. The change in business strategy is undertaken due to Chinese competition targeting double-digit share. We are happy with 5% share in 2 years from around 2% now,“ said Sharma.

(ET, June 15, 2017)

When Duty Calls: At Least 10% Basic Customs Levy Likely on Smartphones

India is close to imposing basic customs duty (BCD) of at least 10% on smartphones, making imported devices more expensive than locally made ones and bringing relief to the likes of Foxconn and Wistron that have invested heavily in factories in the country . The move is also expected to stimulate investments of more than Rs.1,000 crore that have 1 been on the fence for lack of clarity on price differential incentive as India shifts to goods and services tax (GST) regime. Currently , the duty structure makes imported phones expensive than locally ma de ones, but that difference was set to be evened out under GST.


(ET, June 16, 2017)

Samsung's Make in India ringtone gets louder

Samsung Electronics is investing about  Rs.50000 crore to more than double mobile phone production capacity in Uttar Pradesh by 2020, making it the South Korean company's biggest investment in India, where it's holding on to a lead against increasing threats from Chinese rivals. The total includes nearly Rs.2,000 crore the company had pledged last year.

The No 1 smartphone maker in the world and India intends to make the South Asian nation a manufacturing and export hub, with shipments to Europe, Middle East, Africa and elsewhere expected to kick off in 2020, a senior government official told ET.

(ET, June 06, 2017)

Chinese Phone Co. iVoomi plans India Unit, may invest Rs.250 crore

Chinese smartphone maker iVoomi plans to make phones in India with initial investment of Rs 250 crore and export handsets to countries like China, Taiwan and Korea.

The company expects to have its manufacturing facility in the country by the first quarter of 2018.

"We are waiting for the day when we will have manufacturing in India and ship (products) to Korea, China and Taiwan. We want to develop environment and infrastructure here where we can deliver product to these countries,"iVoomi India CEO Ashwin Bhandari told.

"In the first quarter of 2018, we plan to have our captive plant," he said. The company plans to invest Rs 250 crore initially in the manufacturing facility, smartphone assembly and product development, he said

"We will initially have our phone assembled at two plants in India. These are third party plants. We are in talks with Foxconn and VSun. Next year, we expect to start our own manufacturing unit," Bhandari said.

The company entered India around March with the launch of its 4G VoLTEsmartphone iV505 for Rs 3,999. iVoomi has plans to sell 4G smartphone in the price range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 a unit.

"This is the segment which has seen the highest growth. We want to provide this segment new products with unique designs and features. We expect to capture 4 per cent market share in Indian smartphone segment by the end of 2018 which should help us in generating revenue of Rs 1,000 crore," Bhandari said.

(ET, June 08, 2017)

Prasad to meet Industry CEOs on June 16

Minister of electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad will hold a high level roundtable on June 16 with chief executives of telecom, IT, banking, fintech and other industries to chart a roadmap of taking the country to a $1-trillion digital economy by 2022.

The IT ministry's meeting comes alongside the telecom ministry's outreach to the telecom industry. Telecom minister Manoj Sinha is expected to meet top telecom leaders on June 22 to discuss the current state of financial stress in the sector.

“The government has partnered with the industry in the design of new services and platforms like MyGov, Digital Locker, Esign, cloud services, Government eMarketplace, eNational Agricultural Markets... It is time to take this partnership to the next level,“ said people aware of intimations sent out by the ministry of electronics & IT (Meity) to key executives.

The government aims to increase the partnership with the private sector to create new business opportunities and jobs, as it takes steps towards use of technology for enlarging the purview of the government's Digital India programme.

Sources aware of the meeting said that the department will take views from heads of various companies across industries to develop a program that will become the blueprint for increasing the use of digital services for multiple purposes including making financial transactions.

Part of the agenda will also be discussions on issues such as concern over jobs in the IT sector, which have been slowing due to shifts in technology, automation and growing protectionism in developed markets. The issue of the US government reviewing the H1-B visa program may also be discussed. The discussions, sources said, will include ways to find solutions to these issues among other things.

In a separate development, the telecom minister Manoj Sinha will hold meeting with telecom leader including Sunil Bharti Mittal, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Anil Ambani, for understanding financial problems being faced by the sector that has a debt of nearly `5 lakh crore.

The meeting will take place after the inter-ministerial group (IMG) ­ created to resolve financial woes of the telecom sector ­ completes its company-wise meetings.

The IMG has called Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Aircel and Sistema Shyam Teleservices for a meeting on June 12. Other major players - Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea -have been asked for a meeting on June 15 by the panel, while state run carriers will be called on June 17, ET had reported previously.


(ET, June 10, 2017)

Telcos now think Like FMCG Cos to stay on growth

Curve (Instead of blanket discounts, they come out with plans targeted at specific groups based on parameters such as usage and spending patterns, location, lifestyle and occupation): India's top telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and new entrant Reliance Jio are aping the FMCG sector as competition hits fever pitch with plans targeted at specific groups instead of blanket discounts as they fight to retain and grow users.

Reliance Jio's free and cheaper offers launched in September 2016 notched up more than 100 million subscribers in 170 days, many from rival networks, unleashing fierce competition in the sector that has seen a consolidation in the wake of the company's entry .

The mobile phone operators are slicing and dicing their subscriber base on parameters such as usage and spending patterns, location, lifestyle and occupation, besides age group and gender, in a bid to offer exactly what a user may want, say experts. This, they say , is quite different from the broad plans offered earlier to all subscribers. The communication will also be now targeted, rather than aimed at all.

“A consumer product, which have reached a saturation point, needs to be bundled with other services or presented with specifications for a niche segment, telecom operators are doing the same for their subscribers,“ said brand expert Harish Bijoor. “This is more so in metros and tier II cities, because there are at least two numbers per person linked with different operators.“

Incumbents have set up teams to study changing patterns of subscriber subsets to beat competition. Analysts say a similar pattern was also seen in the automobile sector where services were offered to consumers to differentiate between products.

“For qualitative consumer understanding, we have set up special consumer panels for as quick as `weekly' researches that is possible all year round. We use tools like smartphone panel studies, brand track reports and net promoter score (NPS) trackers to understand the overall consumer needs and sentiments,“ said Arvind Nevatia, national head, consumer marketing at Vodafone India.

For example, Vodafone's research showed they need to concentrate on youth, which has an “innate fear of missing out.“ Just for this group, it rolled out Vodafone U, with a special friend-to-friend calling offers, data loans to non-telecom lifestyle benefits like special offers on youth brands such as Amazon and Uber. For the segment, the second-largest telco rolled out `experience' offers, too, which included meeting movie stars, trips to the Spanish Tomatino festival and international music fests, entry to exclusive rock concerts, Vodafone said.

A similar service was launched in the rural belt for farmers called Vodafone Kisaan Mitr, where they got real time and customized information on weather and market prices, clubbed with special telecom benefits like free data, which now has two million subscribers.

An Airtel spokesperson said that the market leader leverages “data science and analytics from time to time to create focused propositions for different customer segments“.

Bijoor says communication methods have also changed for operators. “Earlier, it was advertising via regular media channels but now micro segmentation is taking place in retail outlets. There is point of contact method sale in pubs, restaurants depending on consumer profile. There are also teams reaching out to residential welfare associations to spread the word,“ he said.

Jio, for example, is going to schools and colleges to target youth, who are major users of data.

Bharat Bhargava, partner, telecom advisory for EY, said telcos are also increasingly tying up with value added service (VAS) providers to offer content, which relate to categories like lifestyle.

VAS provider Mobclixs Technologies said their telecom clients want more gaming options which the customer can browse for and the operator can offer as part of bundled services.

From pure downloads reduced data rates allows the subscriber to play as he browses, says Dushyant Jani, founder and CEO, Mobclixs. His company is now creating a catalogue of 300-500 virtual games; the next focus for operators as smart phones penetration deepens.

According to a Mobclixs report, the Indian gaming industry is growing at 6.61% annually, while the Indian mobile VAS market is set to touch $15.10 billion in financial year 2017-18.

But there are challenges. Traditionally in markets like US, companies bundle handsets with services. This is less attractive in India, since licence fee is computed as percentage of operator revenues and those from handset sales are not exempt and would therefore mean an additional payment for companies.

Additionally, “the new net neutrality norms further reduce the options for bundling. Therefore, micro segmentation, however attractive, is a bigger challenge in India,“ said Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First (India), a company that specializes in telecom policy and regulation.

(ET, May 16, 2017)

Smartphone market grows 4.7% in Q1 : IDC

 India’s smartphone market seems to have recovered from the impact of demonetization with sales growing  by 4.7% to 27 million units in January-March 2017, compared to the previous quarter, says a report.  The first quarter of the year saw smartphone shipments growing at “healthy” 14.8% over the year-ago period, the report by research firm IDC said.  The government’s move to scrap high denomination notes in November last year had resulted in over 20% fall in shipments in that quarter over the preceding quarter.  However, with digital payment options becoming more mainstay and cash transactions picking up again, smartphone sales in the country have recovered, say industry watchers.

(HT, May 17, 2017)

Indian smartphone makers routed by Chinese rivals

Indian smartphone makers have lost their significant share in the market in the past year, according to the data released by research firm IDC.

Home-grown companies have been losing market share to their Chinese rivals since 2013.  At the end of March, the cumulative share of local smart phone makers was 13.5 per cent, 27 percentage points lower from 40.5 per cent a year ago.  Shipments of smartphones by Indian vendors dipped 62 per cent, year-on-year, to 3.65 million from 9.52 million in March last year.

Micromax, the largest Indian smartphone vendor, has ended at seventh spot, with a  2.7 per cent  share, was fifth in the market a year ago.  Lava managed to feature on the top 10 list, but Intex, the third largest brand last year, failed to make the list.

The cumulative market share of China-based vendors touched 51.4 per cent in march from 21.2 per cent a year ago, a jump of 143 percent .  Xiaomi and Lenovo cashed in on online sales and Vivo and Oppo grew through retail stores,.  Only Lenovo was among the top five players last year.  South Korean Samsung, too, has improved its market share to 28.1 per cent from 26.6 per cent last year.

Experts said local players could not meet the changing needs of the smartphone market.  Now, growth is increasingly dependent on consumers who are upgrading the smartphones.  As the average selling price of handsets went up the significance o of Indian Vendors’ dominance over the entry-level segment waned, During the past year, the average price of  smartphones rose 18.3 per cent to Rs.10,230 from rs.8,650.

Superior hardware such as better cameras and larger screen sizes, too, played a role.  During the quarter, almost half of the smartphones shipped were equipped with cameras with resolution of 13  megapixels.

(BS, May 17, 2017)

Telecom Lobbies Team up to Seek Reservation of Airwaves for 5G

Representatives of leading mobile phone and broadband services providers are set to shortly approach a key inter-ministerial panel to persuade Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to reserve efficient sub-1GHz spectrum in the 614-698 MHz frequency band for commercial 5G services.

Two persons aware of the matter told ET that three leading telecom lobby groups -the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), London-based GSMA and Broadband India Forum (BIF) -have teamed up to back reservation of airwaves in the 614-698 MHz frequency band for super-fast 5G mobile broadband networks.

The ITU is scheduled to hold a meeting next month in the United States, where senior officials of the department of telecom will participate to articulate India's position on preferred 5G spectrum bands in the run-up to the next spectrum sale where 5G airwaves are proposed to be auctioned.

The Geneva-based agency deals in spectrum management issues globally. It is a multinational collective effort between governments and private companies to suggest new telecom technologies and standards. Should ITU back India's proposal, device makers are expected to consider mass production of 5G phones that will operate on the cost-efficient 614698 MHz band.

In separate letters, COAI, GSMA and BIF will apprise the inter-ministerial group on the “importance of super-efficient earmarking super-efficient sub-1GHz spectrum for 5G services since airwaves in the 614-698 MHz range have superior propagation features and are exceptionally well suited for extensive and affordable fast mobile broadband coverage“, especially in the rural areas, said one of persons, who did not wish to be identified.

The inter-ministerial panel is headed by a senior official of the Tele com Engineering Centre, the technical wing of the department of telecom, and includes senior representatives from the ministries of defence, telecom, and information and broadcasting, along with the department of space.

At present, these airwaves being sought by telcos for 5G services are with the broadcasting sector, with terrestrial broadcaster Doordarshan being the principal holder of such TV broadcasting spectrum in the 470-698 MHz range.



Accordingly, the three telecom lobby bodies are expected to cite the telecom regulator's January 2017 recommendations on digital terrestrial broadcasting (DTB), where it said, “DTB should be limited and this important spectrum resource should not be kept blocked (for broadcasters alone) but must be used efficiently for international mobile telecommunications (IMT)“.

The COAI represents India's biggest telcos including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm, among others. UK-based GSMA, in turn, represents global mobile operators worldwide while the BIF counts Facebook, Google, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Hughes, Huawei, Ericsson, Intelsat and Intel among its members.

Separately, the COAI and GSMA will also urge the inter-ministerial panel to coax the ITU to earmark airwaves in the 3300-3600 MHz frequency band for international mobile telecommunication services, including 5G.

(ET, May 18, 2017)

Vodafone sees sgns of stability as Rel Jio hangs up on freebies

Vodafone sees early signs of stability returning to the Indian telecom market with Reliance Jio Infocomm starting to charge for services from April 1, but cautioned that the industry is still fragile and could again be disrupted by a new promotional offer from the telco.

“I think it is a bit early to call the bottom of the market,“ Vodafone Group chief financial officer Nick Read said during an analyst call after annual results.

“It remains fragile and Jio could always determine a new promotion but we are starting to see stabilisation in important metrics going forward,“ Read said.

Vodafone has seen stability of recharge values and high-value customers as well as a slight uptick in medium value customers, though those in the lower value chain remained vulnerable, when comparing March with January data by segment during the quarter.

The key time frame will be the September quarter when Jio completes a year of entering the market. “We start annualising and that is when you should start to see some improvement in year-over-year performance,“ he said. Jio had started commercial services on September 5, 2016, sparking a brutal price war.

(ET, May 18, 2017)

India made iPhones in market soon

(IT Secretary Sundararajan calls Apple’s move a ‘game changer’ for India’s push to local manufacturing) : Indian consumers could get their hands on made-in-India iPhone SE smartphones as early as this week as Apple has started rolling out the first set of locallymade devices from its contract manufacturer's facility in Bengaluru.

People aware of the manufacturing plans told ET that about 25,000-50,000 units of iPhone SE are being assembled and shipped by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp on a monthly basis, and the devices will be sold across offline and online retail stores.

Trade partners say that the prices of the locally-made phones would initially remain at the current retail prices ­ around `. 25,000, with the company investing the higher margins made from these devices for a more aggressive sales and marketing play .

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the development, but declined to comment on the price, the mar keting strategy or the production le vels. “We are be ginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru. We will begin shipstic customers this ping to domestic customers this month,“ the company said. Wistron declined to comment.

IT and telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan termed the development as a “game changer“ for India's push to local manufacturing. “This is one of the biggest moves for `Make in India' because when an iconic company like Apple comes in, it means they bring a huge ecosystem with them,“ Sundararajan told ET. “It's kind of leapfrogging, because the ecosystem reaches a higher level of maturity , as everyone upgrades to the standards a company like Apple represents,“ she said, adding this will inspire other companies to follow.

Karnataka industries and infrastructure minister RV Deshpande told ET that the state had been raising the company's demands with the commerce and finance minister.

“We have given them (Apple) full cooperation and support. Apple was looking at the right place, and it's a proud moment for India, as we're eager to get more investments from them and others,“ he said.

PRICING FACTOR Navkendar Singh, senior analyst at IDC India, said that Apple is unlikely to change its retail prices in a hurry, considering the huge aspirational brand appeal in India for its products and their overall premium positioning.

“Apple might decide to use the saving from differential duties in expanding its presence, increase channel margins and retail-level marketing, while making sure that Apple products are available at more retail points than before, especially in smaller cities and towns,“ he said.

(ET, May 18, 2017)

Laptops, Desktops to Become Costlier with Entry in 18% Tax Slab

Laptops and desktops are set to become dearer when GST comes into effect, making the industry, which has been arguing for a lower rate of tax to help boost the Digital India drive, to raise concern about the new rates. The GST Council has fixed the rate on laptops and desktops at 18%, compared with the current levy of 14-15%. Related products such as monitors and printers will be taxed at 28%.

The Manufacturers Association for Information Technology had recommended a rate of 12% on PCs, which would have made computers cheaper and helped in increasing IT penetration, Anwar Shirpurwala, the industry body's executive director, told ET. “IT products are the core element of Digital India and the price hike is expected to have a counter effect,“ he added.

The sector has been segregated into two categories: one comprising products such as desktops and laptops, and the other covering items like monitors and printers.

“We want to understand why the same kind of products in a sector have been split into different categories and why there is no synchronisation between them,“ said Shirpurwala. If the PC is taxed at 18% and the monitor at 28%, the impact on the prices on the consumer market will be high, he added.

The industry is also concerned that the inverted duty structure that ma de it cheaper to import than manufacture domestically may return post the GST regime.

Rajeev Jain, director and group chief financial officer at smartphone and IT accessories manufacturer Intex Technologies, said the rates declared were on expected lines except for IT products, which seem to be on the higher side.

“Clarity is awaited on GST on services and treatment of area-based exemptions. Clarity is also required on differential duty on imports and local manufacturing to see the full impact of GST,“ added Jain.

(ET, May 20, 2017)

Will Ensure Make in India is Cheaper for Handsets: Secy

The government has assured the handset industry that making phones in India will continue to be incentivised even under the goods and services tax regime. This comes after GST Council fixed rate on handsets at 12%, which meant most locally-made phones would become costlier and come at par with those imported, taking away the advantage of local manufacturing and threatening millions of dollars of investments made under the Make in India push by several manufacturers.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) will push for imposing a basic customs duty (BCD) on top of GST rate on imported devices to ensure that making phones locally would continue to be cheaper for companies compared with imports, Aruna Sundararajan, secretary IT and telecom, told ET.

“Either the existing regime will continue or the new regime with GST plus BCD will come in -so either way the industry will not lose out,“ Sundararajan said.

(ET, May 20, 2017)

Trai to consider Rel Jio complaint against big three

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will soon examine and settle the complaint made by new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm against incumbent players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for allegedly violating licensing norms. 

"We receive many plaints. They (Jio) may have written to Trai. We will look into it soon and dispose of the matter," Trai chairman RS Sharma told ET, without specifying any timeframe. 

The telecom arm of the oil-to-logistics conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) in a letter to Trai dated April 10 sought the `strongest' possible action and `highest penalty' against market leader Bharti Airtel, Aditya Birla group's Idea Cellular and UK-based Vodafone's India arm for deploying unfair and deceptive ways to retain customers willing to exit their networks. 

"At the outset, we submit that as far as these mobile number portability offers are concerned, these are in gross violation of existing telecom laws including Telecom Tariff Order, 1999," Jio in a letter to the regulator alleged. Sunil Mittal-owned Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India have denied Jio's charges. 
(ET, Apr 15, 2017)

In Telecom with Roaming gone & Consumer is King

In Telecom with Roaming gone & Consumer is King : Mobile phone users, especially those who travel within India, would be greeted with a lower bill for April as India's major telcos - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Aircel --have taken giant steps towards abolishing roaming in their attempt to match Reliance Jio Infocomm's offers. 

Starting April 1, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Aircel have already abolished incoming charges while roaming. Newcomer Reliance Jio has made voice calls free for life, which includes no charges on incoming or outgoing calls while roaming on any network. 

Market leader Airtel has also said it won't charge a premium on outgoing calls while roaming, and others would have no choice but to follow suit, meaning mobile phone users can now carry their mobile numbers anywhere in the country, talk freely and pay home rates, which in turn, would translate into lower monthly phone bills. 

Experts though note that incumbent telcos could see a further dip in voice average revenue per user (ARPUs) in the coming months, starting with the first quarter of this fiscal year which began April 1as roaming accounts for 3 to 4.5% of a telco's revenue, though the fall will partly offset by likely rising call volumes. Nitin Soni, director at ratings agency, Fitch, agreed that consumers would be the "biggest beneficiaries" with the death of domestic roaming as their "bill shocks would end", which in turn, would boost voice usage levels. 

"Domestic roaming as a concept got pretty much killed ever since Jio decided that voice would be perceived as free by consumers," Mayuresh Joshi, fund manager at Angel Broking, told ET. Vodafone and Idea, he said, will have no choice but to respond to the disruptive moves taken by Jio and Airtel on the domestic roaming front, and price their voice and data rates accordingly. 

A top industry expert, who did not wish to be named, backed the view, saying "a complete equilibrium in domestic roaming charges is imminent," especially since all serious telcos are rapidly seeing "India as a single telecom geography and not 22 separate circles." 

Fitch's Soni also feels domestic roaming has rapidly gone out of fashion amid surging data consumption. 

"With consumers increasingly using popular OTT (over-the-top) voice communication apps such as WhatsApp, Skype to FaceBook Messenger for domestic long-distance calls, national roaming as a concept is fast losing relevance," he said. 

He, however, said that there will be some revenue losses in the coming quarters for incumbents.

But the industry executive cited above noted that the fall in roaming revenue could be partially offset by an increase in overall call volumes coupled with a rise in the number of domestic roamers. 
(ET, Apr 15, 2017)