Can India afford to boycott Chinese smartphones makers?


Economic globalization enables companies to enter potential markets, where brand popularity and acceptance depend on the value they provide to customers.

Over the past few years, India has become a destination for Chinese products, causing dependency among millions of local small business owners.

The Indian mobile market is a prime example, with Chinese brands dominating the local marketplace by offering low-budget phones with premium features. However, the significant rise of the anti-China movement, fueled by the Indo-China face-off in the Galwan Valley, has given an advantage to Taiwan-based company Samsung and Indian smartphone maker Micromax.

Local people are actively seeking alternatives to brands like Oppo and Vivo, expressing their preferences on various forums and social media platforms.

As a result, Samsung and Micromax are reevaluating the market gap and opportunities created by this backlash. They are preparing to launch a range of budget mobile phones and fitness products.

Similarly, in response to the ban on 59 Chinese apps due to security concerns, several Indian app clones have emerged, including alternatives to TikTok.

Experts predict that Indian manufacturing companies will face challenges as they rely on components from China to produce finished goods, such as cars and air conditioners.

Brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus, which held an 80% market share in the first quarter of this year, have experienced a decline in sales ranging from 5% to 9%. Meanwhile, Samsung has increased its market share in India.

One reason for the decline in sales is the limited inventory of these Chinese brands, as their Indian plants are not operating at full capacity and face certain customs issues.

Restricting Chinese manufacturers will not have a significant impact on the economy, as the total direct investment from China in more than 30 startups, involving over 90 investors, amounts to $6.4 billion. Although it will reduce the options available to Indian consumers, the trend on social media against China indicates that they are not overly concerned about it.

To fill this void, non-Chinese manufacturers are designing and producing more budget handsets than they did last year. Recently, Samsung launched S10 Lite, Note10 Lite, and S21 handsets, which received positive feedback from both tech enthusiasts and consumers.

Following a similar path, Micromax is set to release three new smartphones next month, as confirmed by the company’s official Twitter handle.

In October 2019, Micromax launched its previous smartphone, the iOne Note, which offered premium features at a reasonable price of Rs. 8199/-. Prior to that, they introduced the N11 and N12 mobile phones in 2018, generating significant hype.

The gradual rise of Micromax could be attributed to the active anti-China movement in India following the Galwan land issue. It remains undisclosed whether the company will import key parts from China, as it did before, or build its phones from scratch. Their continuous tweets have included hashtags like #MadebyIndia and #MadeforIndia, indicating that they may continue their previous approach of handling Chinese phones with their own branding.

All three smartphones will fall under the 10K segment, challenging the Chinese makers and aiming to establish a strong presence in the budget category, which Micromax previously held in 2014.

We can expect to learn about their manufacturing, marketing, and selling prices next month.

It is my hope that the dependency on Chinese parts and products will gradually decrease, providing equal and unbiased opportunities for small Indian businesses.

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