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Penetration of Chinese Smartphone in India
7/2/2020 11:45:46 PM

Mahadeep Singh Jamwal

It is undeniable fact that in present era we are completely dependent on smart phones from entertainment, studies, cumulating world affairs, online purchases, Webinars, E-meeting, E-banking, for conveyance of information and what not. In this way now Smart Phone’ is part of our daily life. Simply we can say that old media companies have been challenged by the Smartphone and they are struggling to survive and are in a mad race to outright one another in launching new products with latest technologies. These small and sleek devices are multi-functional gadgets that help in our day-to-day tasks with the launch of latest models; we can now keep our self updated with the latest information. Today, mobile phones are able to send messages and photo images, access the internet and email, play music, games and lots more. In less than two decades, smart phones have become an indispensable part of our lives. Despite their widespread use, a handful of players dominate the global smart phone industry. The write up will hover around Chinese brands only to maintain the sanctity of people’s concern to do away Chinese product, gaining momentum after ‘Galwan’ Episode. Boycotting China and Chinese products has been trending on social media in India recently. Doing away China products is a little difficult in the case of smart phones. The dominance of Chinese products in the Indian market is due to the price advantage they offer. For instance, there is a higher demand for Chinese smart phones in the Indian market due to better cost-to-performance ratio. The banning of 59 mobile apps stated to be prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order is a much awaited action that has given a signal to China for more drastic actions that are likely to hit the China economy. We will like to add here that banning of these apps does not affect the smart phones industry of Chinese brand manufactured in India under ‘Make in India’ initiative. Most Smartphone brands all or part of the Smart phones sold in India locally. However the smart phones made in India are assembled in the country while most of their expensive components are imported. There are no fully made in India smart phone at the moment. The Government has started a scheme that incentivizes companies for increasing their local production by 2025. The Indian smart phone market is dominated by China-based brands, with Chinese companies accounting for at least 73 per cent of the smart phones sold in the country (First quarter of 2020). At present we have top Chinese smart phone companies in India with best brand of mobiles such as: Xiaomi – Redmi – Mi, One Plus 1+, Vivo, Oppo, Realme, Lenovo (Motorola), Meizu, Coolpad, Zopo Mobile, Tecno Mobile, Gionee etc. Most of the smart phones of Cinese brand sold in Indian market are made locally, as part of PM’s dream project “Make in India” campaign. None the less the question on everybody’s mind is exactly which smart phone models are made in India? These mostly are: Xiaomi products are Redmi 8, Redmi 8A, Redmi Note 7, Redmi Note 8, Pro, Poco F1, Mi A3. ViVO products are Y 50, Y 19, U20, Z1 Pro, V15, and V15Pro. OPPO products are F11, F11 Pro, A31 2020, A 52, A5 2020, K3. Realme products are XT, 6Pro, % Pro, %s, # Pro. One Plus products are 8 Pro, 7T Pro, &T. These are investments made by nearly two dozen Chinese tech companies and funds, led by giants like Alibaba, ByteDance and Tencent which have funded 92 Indian start-ups, including unicorns such as Paytm, Byju's, Oyo and Ola. The India no doubt also manufactures some brands made in India such as: LAVA., Micromax, Karbonn Mobile, Intex Technologies but Chinese products have dominated Indian products as such these Indian manufacturers are not in a position to compete China brands. In our smart phone industry, out of the five bestselling phone brands in India, four are Chinese – Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme and Oppo. These four brands combined dominate over 60% of the smart phone market in India. China is India’s largest trading partner, but the trade is heavily skewed in favor of China. Even as voices averse to trade ties with China grow louder, doing away with China-made products may be easier said than done. The range of goods that we import from China is massive: consumer durables such as electronic goods, smart phones, industrial goods, vehicles, solar cells, and essential pharmaceutical products including tuberculosis and leprosy drugs and antibiotics, among many others. In 2017-18, almost 60% of India’s import requirements of electrical and electronic equipment were met by China. On the other hand, 30% of India’s automobile components are met from China and about 90% of the country’s toy market is occupied by Chinese products. Similarly, 50% of the demand in the country’s bicycle market is met by imports in which China has a large share. Trade figures suggest that India is the biggest importer of Chinese consumer goods. India was having huge trade deficit of $53.6 billion with China in 2018-19. It is important to understand that calls for this kind of consumer boycott are hardly new or unique. History testifies that such attempts have been tried without much success many times. China itself tried to boycott all Japanese products in the early 1930s to protest against Japanese colonisation. Similarly, US consumer forums tried to boycott French goods in 2003 to protest against France declining to send troops to Iraq post 9/11. Arab nations have also many times boycotted Israeli and American products with regard to there stand on Palestine. The reason for failure is simple: economics defies all shackles perpetuated by emotions and isolationism. We need to work out mechanism for import substitution needs by creating such product alternatives which can compete both in quality and cost against Chinese products. Lastly, it would be extremely beneficial if we diversify our import basket, by importing our necessities from a host of other countries and lessening our dependence on China. All these steps, collectively, could take us closer to self-reliance.
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