Dual Sim mobile sales are booming in India with over 71 million unique subscribers in India that is around 61% of the whole mobile phone sales in the country. A recent report by Neilson also states that a large portion of the consumers are youth. The trend of selling dual SIM mobiles in India was started by lesser known local brands such as Micromax and Karbonn.
Since then, Nokia and Samsung have eaten into the market share of these early starters. Nokia leads the multi SIM mobile phone market in 2012 with 30% share while Samsung trails at 2nd position with 16% of this market share.
Other brands like Lava, Spice, Karbonn and G’Five who started the trend of Dual-SIM mobile phones hold just single figure market shares. Dual Sim mobiles have today become the main contributor in terms of sales for most mobile manufacturers. While Global Smartphone makers have more or less refrained from entering this segment, off late Samsung have made major strides in the Dual sim segment with the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos and Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos.
Sony and HTC have now joined the bandwagon with their own offerings, the launch of HTC Desire V and Sony Xperia Tipo Dual comes at an interesting time. But can Sony and HTC capitalize on the Dual Sim Boom in India?
Mid-Range Segment: Why Sony and HTC have made wise pricing decisions
As Nokia, Samsung and other local players have already acquired a large portion of the entry-level Dual-SIM market, there is very little room for brands like HTC and Sony to find any land to place their feet in this over-crowded space.
On the other hand, there is a new group of Dual-SIM phones users who are willing to shell out some extra bucks for smartphone features and better hardware. They are opting for the Dual-SIM smartphones which fall in mid-level segment and come from big brands featuring better design, build quality and good internals.
A look at the price list of Dual Sim mobiles in India gives a clear idea of the huge gap in pricing between current models. While more than 80% of phones lie below the price range of Rs 6000, there are no mobiles in the price range of Rs 12000 to Rs 20000.
Both HTC and Sony have launched mobiles catering to this key segment of mid-range customers. HTC’s Desire V sports a 1 GHz Qualcomm Processor with Adreno 200 GPU and 512 MB of RAM. It has a 4 inch WVGA screen, 5 MP camera, VGA video and is priced at INR 20,145 (effective market price in recent times has been around Rs 17000 mainly due to coupons and offers).
Even Sony has showcased a mid-range Dual-SIM Android smartphone; Tipo Dual which has an 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227A processor, Adreno 200 GPU and 512 MB of RAM. It has a QVGA 3.2 inch multi-touch screen, 3.2 MP fixed-focus camera with an ability to record VGA videos and will probably be released next month at a price of nearly INR 12,000.
Android ICS Can Propel Their Lead in the Market
Currently, the smartphone audience is too choosy about the version of operating system that comes preloaded and the ability to upgrade to newer versions. Most of the Android smartphones in the mid-range come with an older version, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and are not upgradeable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
ICS brings with it, a lot of design and functional changes such as all new slick UI, data usage monitoring and new notifications system among others. The phones released by Sony and HTC, come preloaded with Android 4.0 ICS.
Bundling phones with latest version of operating system will not only be a deciding factor which can urge people to go for models from these brands but also will increase the respect for the brand in their minds. Given the choice, A user might prefer to buy a upper mid level HTC Desire V with the Dual sim functionality and ICS in comparison with competing phones such as Motorola Atrix 2 , Samsung Galaxy S plus etc.
A user will go for the Sony Xperia Tipo Dual compare to the Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos. Clearly Ice Cream Sandwich can help Sony and HTC woo customers in their respective price ranges.
The Samsung Counter attack
Sony is popular among the youths for phones with sleek form factors and funky colours while HTC is popular for phones having tough build quality and elegant user interface. If you observe closely, there is not even one Dual-SIM smartphone between Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos (priced at INR around 11.5K) and HTC Desire V (priced at around INR 20K) which leaves a big gap in the price range.
Both Sony and HTC can try and release more Dual-SIM smartphones with Android 4.0 which are priced in this gap so that they can capitalize better on this boom for Dual-SIM smartphones. Samsung has already made its plans of launching a barrage of dual SIM smartphones in the higher mid-level and high-end price bracket with Samsung Galaxy S Duos and Samsung Galaxy S2 Duos which are expected to be priced at around INR 18,000 and INR 30,000 respectively.
While Galaxy S Duos is confirmed to be available world-wide, Galaxy S2 Duos is currently only heading to the Chinese markets.
Nevertheless should the phone be available across the world, the phone would promise to be a sure shot best seller. At the moment, neither HTC nor Sony have announced phones to compete with the newly announced Samsung phones. It will be interesting to see how Sony and HTC hold up against the Samsung counter attack
Sony and HTC have not yet made a significant mark in the smartphone market.
Despite producing high quality products with great functionality and design aesthetics, the companies have missed the plot on most occasions. With Dual Sim phones, HTC and Sony have a new opportunity of gaining both market share as well as building brand visibility.
India will stage an epic battle in the coming months, it will be interesting to watch how the new challengers fare against the Korean Kings of smartphones.
Your thoughts welcome…
[About the Author: Ashwin Sreekumar heads Marketing at MySmartprice and is an MS graduate from State University of New York, University at Buffalo. He has avid interest in eCommerce, marketing , technology and smartphones.]