Make in India, Design in India, Customised for India is our roadmap

As India pipped US and became second largest smartphone market in the world and crossed the 100-million units benchmark, there’s a crop of dissuaded customers rising to reject run-of-the-mill innovations. Are Chinese phone makers ready to scale The Great Wall to concur India’s brutal phone market?

The strongly contested Indian smartphone market has seen many Chinese phone makers enter the country in droves; albeit in wait and watch mode, their prolonged presence could eat into the share of Indian companies. As India pips US to become second largest smartphone market in the world – according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service’s report – most Chinese players are now looking for avenues to leverage on India’s growth potential in the smartphone market.

The report further added that the smartphone shipments in India grew a healthy 15 per cent annually in Q4 2015 (Oct-Dec). During CY 2015, Indian smartphone shipments grew 23 per cent YoY to cross the 100 Million units milestone. Meanwhile, the Chinese brands that grew significantly during the quarter included Oneplus, Coolpad and Meizu. This year will be highly competitive as brands such as Huawei (with Honor), LeTV and Vivo expand with aggressive offerings to compete head-on with other Indian and Chinese players.

Ironically, the maturing market, tells another survey conducted by US-based technology major, Accenture, will notice a dip in sales in 2016. Consumers planning on buying phones dip from 80 per cent in 2014 to 68 per cent in last year, indicate the survey, citing reasons such as lack of innovation, price inconsistency and general exasperation with their devices.

Coolpad, the Chinese handset maker that entered India last year, is partnering with Videocon to assemble its handsets here while looking at setting up its research and development (R&D) operations here to cater to the SAARC region. Retailer caught up with Dr Johnson Luo, Global Vice President, Overseas Business, Coolpad Group and discussed themes across the phone maker’s India strategy, innovation and Global competition.

Why has the name Coolpad remained virtually unknown in the foreign markets despite a rock solid performance in the Chinese market?
I can’t agree to that. Coolpad is one of the largest Chinese brands in the global market. We have a foreign market presence as early as 2006, and switched to an aggressive mode since 2015. Right now, we covered 28 major cities of Indonesia with more than 1,000 selling points. The success in Indonesia helped us to further explore Southeast Asia markets, including Vietnam and Philippines. So far we have launched five models there.

On September 17th, we launched our brand in Prague, Czech. This month we launched a new product in Barcelona, Spain, which marks our breakthrough in Western Europe. In United States, we have become a major supplier for T-Mobile and Sprint. With 4 million sales volumes in 2015, we have become the fastest growing brand there. Africa and South America business is also settled to start.

How do you look to spread out the brand’s visibility in the Indian market? Your smartphones are affordable and offer decent specs, could these factors alone work for you in India?
No. Launching products at a competitive price is just the first step. It helps us to reach more customers and increase Coolpad’s brand visibility. As the brand grows, we will invest more and launch products from middle- to high-end range. In 2016, we will launch 4-6 products including some flagships products. Customers will know that we are not only great on cost performance, but also leaders in innovation and security. In the long run, we will be more localised in the Indian market to establish a full supply chain here starting from R&D to manufacturing and distribution.  

Going forward, we want to bring our global expertise here to capture five per cent share in the smartphone market space in India. ‘Make in India, Design in India, customised for India’ is our roadmap. We have achieved the first step through cooperating with Videocon to ‘Make in India’. At the moment, we plan to continue our presence in the online space and also actively seek offline partners at the same time. In terms of market scale, Indian market will soon become another Chinese market. Hence, India is the strategic focus point for Coolpad. Therefore, the group will give full support on investment and resources to Indian market. We can capture 3-4 per cent by 2017 first half. 

What is your shipment target for the current year?
We intend to ship about 3-4 million units in the current year.

How many phones do you sell in a year globally?
I can’t tell you the exact number of how much we sell each year. Different market survey agencies rank us differently. But I can share with you our goal of sales volume for 2016, which is 45 million pieces.

What’s the revenue you are expecting from India in the next five years?
Going by our product Average Selling Price (ASP) in the last and current financial year, we aim about $20 billion in revenues in the next five years.

What’s going to be your investment in the mobile phone business in India?
Coolpad has provisioned a 300$ million investment for the Indian market for the next three years; this is broadly divided towards R&D, manufacturing, branding and marketing operations.

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