A decade ago, they were a huge name in the smartphone market of India. Micromax. But we hardly hear about it now. So what’s the story behind their popularity and then disappearance? Can they make a comeback with their new ‘In’ smartphone series?
Crux of the Matter
Making A Comeback?
Last month, Micromax announced on Twitter about a new ‘In’ smartphone series for India. A video with the co-founder, Rahul Sharma was shared wherein he discusses PM Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign and how it encouraged him to revive the indigenous brand.
How Did Micromax Start?
Founded in 2000, it is a Gurugram-based Indian smartphone manufacturer and consumer electronics company. It started as an IT firm dealing with embedded devices and as a technology supplier for the likes of Nokia, and later entered the mobile handset business.
When Did It Gain Popularity?
The mobile phone industry proved to be a turning point for Micromax as from 2008 onwards, the company increased exponentially. So from a 10 crore/year business, it grew to a 100 crore/year business in a few months!
Innovation For The Masses
Micromax’s first mobile phone, the Micromax X1i, was priced modestly, even with features at par with the global competitors, like a 30-day battery life. It became a huge hit across India in 2008, especially in rural areas where people did not have regular access to electricity.
How Did They Do It?
The ecosystem for building phones from the ground level wasn’t present in India, so they went to China for hardware sourcing. So the phones were designed by Micromax in India, with reference designs taken from chipmakers like Qualcomm and MediaTek, and then built in bulk by Chinese fabricators.
Downfall Begins With Launch of Jio 4G
The game changed for Micromax with the advent of Reliance Jio 4G in 2016. In a highly competitive smartphone market, Micromax primarily operated in the 2G and 3G sphere, with all of its 40 different mobile phones. The fast data packs available at nominal prices revolutionized the internet for mobile phones after that.
And Continued With The Advent Of Chinese Phones
Chinese companies like Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, etc. realised the opportunity presented by the huge consumer base in India. They studied the market on a mass scale and identified the point of entry as the offline retailers. Backed by superior financial power, these companies provided incentives to retailers in order to promote their products. Once the Make in India campaign came into force, they started assembling their products in India too at a comparatively cheaper price.
‘In’ Series Acts As A Power Bank?
High hopes are pinned to Note 1 and 1b models of the Micromax ‘In’ series, that have the reverse charging feature. It enables the smartphone to charge other smartphones, smart watches, smart bands, etc, that support wireless charging. This feature can also be found in Taiwanese (Asus) and Chinese (Vivo) phones currently.
- The Freedom 251 was a smartphone sold by Ringing Bells Private Limited and was for sale at Rs251, marketed as the world’s cheapest smartphone. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has stated that the phone is bogus and the promotion is a Ponzi scheme.
- Micromax was originally a Software focused company that specialized in embedded devices domain (developing embedded boards like Raspberry PI, etc). The company later entered the mobile handset business in 2010
- Micromax was the first Indian smartphone manufacturer to appoint a Hollywood star as its brand ambassador. Hugh Jackman endorsed the Canvas series of smartphones for Micromax.
- Android completely dominates the mobile OS market in India, with a market share of over 90%. This market share is largely down to the accessibility of Android devices, with a low entry-level cost for smartphones compared to other devices currently in the space.