Corning gears up for ‘Gorilla Glass’ war in India

Purvita Chatterjee Mumbai | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on July 31, 2016



Sees rising market in sync with booming smartphone usage

The $10-billion Corning Inc is planning to grow its Gorilla Glass in the Indian market in sync with smartphone penetration. Corning, which is the market leader in the covered glass used in mobile devices, recently launched the fifth version of its specialised toughened glass — Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It expects India to become a significant market in the future.

“India has roughly 1 billion cell phone users, of which 20 per cent use smartphones and 80 per cent use feature phones. It is still a small market and is just getting started for us.

“But we plan to grow in this market directly with smartphone penetration,” said John Bayne, Vice-President and General Manager, Gorilla Glass, Corning Speciality Materials.

While its initial growth came from the developed and developing world in North America, Europe and China, these are now saturated markets in terms of smartphone users. “Smartphone penetration is almost 90 per cent in these markets, which makes India a critical market from where we will seek tremendous opportunities going forward,” Bayne added.

The 165-year-old Corning already supplies to global OEM players such as Motorola, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung, along with domestic players Micromax, Lava and Karbonn.

Domestic push

In fact, more than the international brands, Corning expects to tap into the Indian mobile phone companies, and plans to start co-branding activities with them. “Gorilla Glass 3 is already the highest seller in India and we will be working with more local OEMs and brands. The top four-five brands are Indian companies and we want to help them with our cover glass technology. We will also seek co-promotions with them,” he added.

Corning has also made a conscious decision to work with more entry-level smartphone manufacturers since that gives it pricing flexibility.

“Corning Gorilla Glass 5 gives us the flexibility with our other products like Gorilla 3 and 4 in terms of our pricing strategy. Clearly, if somebody was price sensitive, we could have more flexibility with our legacy of products,” said Bayne, adding: “The cost of glass is less than 1 per cent of the price of the mobile phone.”

The original Gorilla Glass was launched in 2007, when smartphone penetration was at 10 per cent and just taking off. The latest version — Gorilla Glass 5 — comes with greater drop resistance.

The glass can survive up to 80 per cent of the time when dropped face down from 1.6 metres.

Corning recently entered the screen protector segment and is looking forward to launching those products also in India.

“We launched screen protectors, which go under the name of Corning Accessory Glass, about six months ago and intend taking them to India. We are also looking at segments like glass at the back of mobile devices in future,” he said.

Manufacturing plans

However, in India, Corning’s Gorilla Glass presence is restricted to sales. “If the finishing industry develops in India like it has in China, and it is cost-effective, we may consider manufacturing,” said Bayne.

To familiarise consumers with Gorilla Glass, Corning is more keen on social media than traditional advertising.

“We need consumers to know about the brand, so we have got back into the consumer marketing business. Right now, with this particular product line, we believe there is a marketing opportunity in the B2C space,” he said.

Corning’s competitors in the covered glass segment include Asahi Glass and Dragontail.

Published on July 31, 2016
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