This Indian Smartphone Company is Not Worried About Samsung and Apple
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In four years of its existence, Indian phone maker Micromax was giving foreign players a run for their money, owing to its innovation and low price point strategy. "In villages where there is no entertainment or electricity, even in such places communication prevails." So the team thought of filling the gap by producing smartphone which are affordable. Till 2012, the company was selling about 1.5 million units of smartphones and 70,000 units of tablets every month at a competitive pricing.
Micromax, which came into existence in 1991, mostly produced IT hardware products, semiconductors and chargers.
"When I entered interiors of Bihar, I saw people using number of chargers which were made by us. I asked my co-founders if we could manufacture our own mobile phones. Their main concern was whether we would be able to compete with the existing players like Samsung and Nokia and Apple. They asked me would you buy this brand?" he says adding, "I told them that I am not a buyer, he is somewhere else."
Micromax was all about finding its own path, for strategies and branding techniques and not following the multinationals. The aim has always been to massify technology so that premium technology becomes available to everyone. Once on his visit to a remote village in Bengal, where there was no electricity, he saw a villager was using a truck battery to power his phone.
As he spoke to the man further, he came to know that they travel 11 Kms to another village just to charge the batteries overnight. And, that gave them the idea of manufacturing the 30-day long battery backup phone. However, things have not been smooth sailing for the last two years, after Micromax got a beating from Chinese smartphone manufacturers.
Moreover, it also faced the onslaught of 4G as majority of its phones are 3G enabled. Even demonetisation put a large blow as most of its phones were under the INR 10,000 tag, and the distributors mostly dealt in cash rather than the EMIs. Moreover, the company also faced many top-level exits, including Vineet Taneja and Sanjay Kapoor. Micromax lost market share and slid from the top slot, where it reigned for years.
Sharma adds, "So we took some time to understand their strategy. It's now time for us to attack again and create a storm. We are all set for a strong comeback." When one of the founders got caught up in a legal battle, the company decided to move on.
On dealing with challenges, Sharma shares, "Difficulty is in everything. But if I have a purpose I can deal with it more effectively and strategically. One will face hurdles but never lose the sight of the mission with which you had decided to build something." Talking about playing its strength, Sharma says, "I am often asked why I don't make smart phones in the INR 60,000 range. The thing is I don't want to, let Samsung and Apple deal with that battle. So, one needs to keep in mind their core strength."
(This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)