• Ajay Sharma

Project Rejuvenation: Reviving Indian Smartphone Market

November ends. The woes of the mobile industry do not.

Murphy’s law says: “If things can go wrong, they will go wrong!” and this is exactly what has been happening in the Indian mobile industry since October.

1. Online – The Challenger! Online channel, being on the attack mode, is severely affecting offline channel partners specially the Brick and Mortar stores.

I have been called, bombarded with WhatsApp/LinkedIn and text messages from channel partners on their anxiety and plans to exit the business. While I feel sad for them, I try and hand hold them.

2. Comio’s Exit Fuels The Fire I believe a lot of people including the Indian team knew this was coming, but did not react fast enough.

3. #OppoIndia’s MD Opts Out! This was not expected, but as recently clarified his exit had nothing to do with the losses. In fact, the President of Oppo – Charles Wong – stated in an interview a couple of days back that Oppo is going through an investment heavy phase with a clear India strategy. While it could be an uplifting move for the brand, my views on the team and their strategy to segregate the two brands – #Oppo and #Realme, still hold true. Read my blog on this here: https://bit.ly/2PgfhKE

4. Hipad factory workers go on a rampage due to loss of jobs.

5. Salary disbursements savaged! Salary cuts of employees from top to bottom in some companies. I think #ZioxMobiles is one of them. Delayed salaries by #Lava which a lot of people said was the only Indian company that could pass this litmus test. Remember my post on Lava’s statement on launching phones till Rs.14000, being outlandish.

There may be others I have missed but these should set the context for today’s blog.

While all of this is happening, and awards are being given for causing this “disruption” by publications. But what is this so-called disruption they have done? Brought down the price:specification to get a share of the pie, causing huge collateral damage, not only to their mother brand, but to each and every brand irrespective of the country they belong to. This had a cascading effect on their vendors, employees – both on and off rolls – and God knows who all.

So is Disruption the need of the hour? No!

If one looks up the dictionary, it defines disruption as – disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.


disturbance, disordering, disarrangement, disarranging, interference, upset, upsetting, unsettling, confusion, confusing;

disorderliness, disorganization, turmoil, disarray;

interruption, suspension, discontinuation, stoppage;

obstruction, impeding, hampering, spoiling, ruining, wrecking, undermining;

holding up, delaying, delay, retardation "he was exasperated at this disruption of his plans"

All the synonyms or the sentence used above as an example, are negative. But why think negative? Shouldn’t we rather focus on the positive and reward disruption’s antonym – #Rejuvenation.

This kind of disruption cannot continue for long, and not good for the brands or the channel.

If there is the one company which executed Rejuvenation to its best, it was not a multinational, but our homegrown brand – #Micromax. Keeping the end consumer in mind at all times then-Be it the company’s vision or product categories, pricing strategy, channel and team restructuring for smartphones or marketing, with everyone from the founders to Business heads fully aligned. 2011 to 2015 was a period of Rejuvenation of the industry and Micromax was the catalyst for all others.

The result was obvious- Micromax became the No.1 brand within 2 years of launching smartphones in 2013-14. No one has been able to match that success story till now, even considering the fact that the competition may have been much lesser then.

Rejuvenation is the need of the hour and we have to see how can brands and channel execute it.

Product Rejuvenation

Issue: Specification or technology benefits will be limited to first mover advantage – with the Global top 10 brands ruling this domain with their dedicated R&D setups.

For others, the exit gates are open and we’ve been witnessing this as it happens. Refer: Comio’s Exit From India. Read here:<>

Rejuvenation: 1997-2003 being the initial phase of commercialisation of mobile phones saw the explosion of creativity and product innovation. Phones that looked like tubes, ovals, cubes or squares, folding Phones – all created massive media interest and heated debate among consumers. The industry was alive with experimentation and daring concept models that were supposed to create a halo around more mundane phones. #Moto Razr was one such phone.

Then came another wave between 2007 and 2011 when #HTC came up with some beautiful differentiated IDs – Sliding phones, phone with curved chins, QWERTY phones with touchscreen.

It's time you change the looks, guys. Play around with the IDs. Maybe get designers

Go Retro-See what #Nokia did with their 3310 and the banana phone. They have done incredibly well to the extent that all brands are making copies of it.

Rejuvenate. It’s important.

Pricing Rejuvenation

Issue: Brands fighting purely on price:specification equation with most making losses barring a couple of brands that are making nominal profits. How dangerous can this be is explained in my blog on Samsung. Read here: <>

I always believed that the health of the channel partners depends on the health of the brand. If the brand is not healthy, this contagious disease will hit their partners as well who will also fall sick sooner than later. Best examples – #Gionee, #LeEco and the latest one being #Comio. My blog on Comio's exit from India - https://bit.ly/2DUq0Z4