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Indian handset makers dial overseas for biz opportunities

Abhishek Law
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Tapping West Asia, Latin America, Africa markets

Faced with intense competition back home, a number of Indian mobile phone handset brands are exploring opportunities overseas.

Vendors such as Micromax, Karbonn and Maxx have already tapped neighbouring SAARC nations such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka and are now heading for greener pastures in West Asia, Latin America (Latam), Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Pilot projects

Considered to be volume players at home, companies like Micromax have already forayed into the high-end handset markets of Saudi Arabia and Brazil. Now, plans are afoot to enter Mexico and Argentina this year. The company has already carried out pilot projects in Nigeria and is now gearing up to launch tablets, handsets and datacards.

“Some Indian companies have established themselves as preferred low-cost handset brands. Scaling up shipments will enable them to have a sustainable local manufacturing facility,” Mr Faisal Kawoosa, Analyst, Cyber Media Research, told Business Line.

Karbonn Mobiles is the second largest brand – after Samsung – in Nepal and is now planning to expand operations to West Asia, Latam and the CIS. “Global operations account for 10 per cent of our revenues,” Mr Sashin Devsare, Executive Director, Karbonn, said. Maxx Mobiles, with a manufacturing facility at Haridwar in Uttarakhand, has already entered Hong Kong, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Fiji Islands. The business map will expand to Africa and Russia by August. The company has a sales office in Hong Kong to take care of overseas operations.

Distribution

Most of the vendors, being averse to the telco carrier model (where handsets and talk plans are given together by mobile operators), have come up with their own distribution networks in matured markets such as West Asia and Latam.

“In most countries, we enter into distribution agreements with some regional distributor. We intend to compliment the operators’ strategies,” Mr Vikas Jain, Business Director, Micromax Informatics Ltd, said.

Mr Hemant Joshi, Partner, Deloitte Haskins and Sales, pointed out that once the brouhaha over the international foray subsides, it is for the vendors to provide “something different” and a more value-added product than those already available in these markets.

abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 11, 2012)
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