Business, Marketing, Technology

Mobile phone buyers in India – 2010 and beyond (Part 2)

(Last time, I wrote about the qualitative classification of Mobile phone buyers in India. This is a continuation of that post. )

Million households
Firstly, to give numbers to the last time’s classification – NCAER numbers of 2006 are as given in the chart above. The survey takes into account data for 209 mn households.

In the IPL, we have some interesting brandings happening already. Have you noticed the number of telecom companies + mobile phone companies advertising during the 45 day cricket extravaganza? I can count – Karbonn mobile, Micromax, Videocon, Nokia, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance, Tata Docomo, Max mobile, Samsung, LG – basically the entire industry is present here in some or the other manner. That explains the mad scramble to get to the Indian eyeballs and grabbing some amount of market share.

So, where is this industry going ahead? If I were to identify top 3 potential game-changers in 2010, these (or a combination of these) would be my answers.

1. The mobile operator – As mobile phone buyers become more versatile and know what to expect from a mobile phone, they will make more and more informed choices- particularly, those in the Climbers class and above. In this context, the role of the operator will become increasingly important. For an aware mobile phone buyer, an attractive mobile phone package can act as an effective deterrent to the lure of the prepaid connection. That phone manufacturer+ operator combination which can crack this code the quickest will have some kind of first mover advantage in this aspect of the market.

2. Promotions – As the cost-feature mismatch between manufacturers reduces, Promotions and top-of-mind recall will be a differentiator in a major way. The huge ad-spends during IPL by every major mobile manufacturer indicate just that. Expect the bollywood and cricketing fraternity coming to your newspapers, TV screens, FM channels, roadside hoardings a lot more during the remaining quarters of 2010. Here’s another Zoozoo ad from the 2010 campaign. ( We had so many posts on the Zoozoo campaign on last year – here’s one by Shubham )

3. 3G technology – when and if it happens! – This TOI article states that 3G auctions in India may happen in April 2010. I have been hearing about these dates for the past 18 months now, and would comment on these only when the auctions truly take place.

At the risk of digressing from the topic, I wish to quote Mr. Shyam Ponappa in an article about Spectrum management written during the budget week

India’s spectrum allocation is burdened with short-term revenue collection for the government, and a shortage mentality. There is apparently insufficient clarity on spectrum usage for ubiquitous broadband/telephony as in other countries, let alone more ambitious targets, such as developing an Indian standard.

Our policies could address the requirement for enhanced coverage/capacity at low cost to make services available everywhere at reasonable prices. Innovative approaches to spectrum management could help get these, through:

Technology-neutrality: the UK and Norway have not restricted the use of recently auctioned spectrum to any technology.

In the context of the mobile phone buyer, the 3G auction can lead to considerable changes in the buyer mindset. If the auctions of through, there can be significant shifts in the buying patterns of the feature conscious mobile buyers , particularly in the later part of the year. The auction can also be the trigger for the emergence of Apple and Android based phones to enter the Indian market in a big way.

To round it up, the market is a huge opportunity right now- the new entrants and the super-aggressive promotions happening all around are testimony to the above statement. 2010 may well be an year where (a) fragmentation can come into the market (b) mobile-buyers will increasingly become feature conscious (c) growth will come through the second time buyer.

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