India

Google launches Home and Home Mini smart speakers in India

Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year

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In a press event in New Delhi, Google announced the launch of the Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers in India. The niche smart home market in India generated quite an interest last year with the launch of Amazon Echo devices powered by Alexa.

They will be available to buy online in the country exclusively via Flipkart, and will also be made available via offline stores. The speakers will support Google Play Music, YouTube, Netflix, Saavn, and Gaana. Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year and there are no immediate plans to bring the larger Google Home Max speaker to India at the moment.

Google Home is priced at INR 9,999 (US$ 154) while the Mini retails at INR 4,499 (US$ 70). Customers buying the Google Home or Google Home Mini from Flipkart will get a free JioFi router and when buying a Google Home from a Reliance Digital or MyJio stores, a JioFi router will be included along with 100GB of 4G data worth INR 2,499 (US$ 39). This offer is valid until April 30. Google is also offering six months of free subscription to Google Play Music with both the Google Home and the Home Mini.

Google Home sports a high-excursion speaker with a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators. It will only be available with a White body, but come with different-colored speaker material — the default it ships with is Slate fabric. The speaker also supports Chromecast, letting users stream movies, shows, and music onto their connected TVs or Google Cast speakers.

The Google Home Mini has four lights on top, which show the speaker is working and turn orange when the mic is muted. There is a mic mute switch near the power (micro-USB) port on the back. Its speaker is touted to deliver 360-degree sound and bears a 40mm driver, while its mic supports far-field voice recognition.

While Google has shared that Google Home works with over 1,500 smart home devices from 200-plus brands, only a few like TP-Link, D-Link, and Philips Hue are popular in India — although still expensive with limited mainstream adoption.

India

Motorola razr will soon come to India

Will mostly be an unlocked variant

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There’s no doubt that 2019 has been one of the most exciting years in consumer technology. For a long time, we’ve been fantasizing about foldable displays and many brands were in a race to be the first one to grab the spot. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was unveiled some time back and is now available for purchase in many markets.

Lenovo-backed Motorola brand has been making affordable as well as midrange phones for quite some time. Now, it’s aiming for the premium market and their first product has revolutionary next-gen technology along with old-school nostalgia.

Resurrecting the razr lineup, the all-new phone comes with a retro, yet iconic, flip-phone design that incorporates a foldable display. It has two screens — one on the outside and one that bends on the inside. Once unfolded, you’ll see a 6.2-inch flexible OLED that can completely bend without a bump.

Around the same time as the announcement, Motorola’s Indian social media handle posted teasers of the razr, hinting at its possible arrival to India in near future. Those teasers now have been confirmed.

Motorola India’s website has a dedicated page for the phone where interested folks can register their interest. This confirms that it’ll be launching in the country soon. Additionally, this will also mean that interested users around the globe could have an opportunity to buy an unlocked variant of the phone.

Currently, razr is available exclusively via Verizon in the U.S. On the other hand, the Indian market consists of unlocked phones only.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the only foldable smartphone currently on sale in India and has sold out in each of the sales rather quickly. The razr could act as a slightly cheaper alternative for anyone specifically looking for a foldable option. The Fold is locally priced at INR 1,64,999 (US$ 2,290).

The global pricing is US$ 1,499 (INR 1,08,000), though we expect the launch price to be higher because of additional import duties and dynamic currency conversions.

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Realme skyrockets in India mobile market as Samsung falls

Xiaomi continues to hold its spot

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This year Xiaomi and Realme have been constantly fighting each other in the affordable phone segment. Each month we witnessed the launch of a new product, that always ended up killing the competitors previous offering. It’s a never-ending cycle.

However, the sales figures have proven that there’s still no clear winner in sight. According to IDC’s Q3 2019 report, Xiaomi continues to lead the market with a share of 27 percent, followed by Samsung at 18.9 percent. Realme is at the fourth spot with 14.3 percent, just below Vivo.

On the flipside, Realme has registered year-over-year growth of a whopping 400 percent, while Xiaomi grew at a modest 8.5 percent. Unfortunately, Samsung is having a hard time tackling the two younger brands and registered a fall of 8.5 percent.

The average selling price for a smartphone was INR 11,000 (US$ 159). Data also showed that phones under INR 15,000 (US$ 200) still account for 80 percent of the market. But, this segment saw its share drop by five percent on a yearly basis.

The Redmi 7A and Redmi Note 7 Pro were the highest shipped models in the complete market. Realme’s online sales were at 26.5 percent and its shipments were 6.7 million. This also means that number two, three and four smartphone players are closely matched in terms of shipments.

With more than 50 percent share, Apple remained the dominant player in the premium segment, which includes smartphones in the range of US$ 500 and more.

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Nokia branded smart TVs will soon be a thing

Coupled with JBL audio

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Nokia TVs are on the horizon.

India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Nokia to launch Nokia-branded Smart TVs. Flipkart will not only distribute the brand’s smart TVs but is also handling the manufacturing in India.

This will mark Nokia’s entry in an extremely crowded market where new players like OnePlus have just recently arrived. Xiaomi has also been doubling down with its wider range of products and incumbents like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic continue to command a huge share of the market.

A launch timeline hasn’t been revealed yet, but we do know the TVs will sport audio by JBL. Besides Nokia, Huawei’s Honor and Motorola recently launched smart TVs in the country.

The company is known for its research and patents in the telecom industry and continues to work on it. On the side, it has licensed the Nokia brand to third parties like HMD Global for smartphones.

Nokia stopped making phones long back, its hardware division was later acquired by Microsoft, and ultimately everything ended. Though, the brand lived, and the Finnish company was far from giving up.

Flipkart was acquired by Walmart sometime back and the platform intends to leverage its online reach in tier 2 and 3 towns. Besides, all the TVs will be assembled in India under the central government’s Make in India campaign. This will help them avoid import duty on finished products as well as enjoy the direct benefits of the scheme.

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