It’s no secret that India is one of the prime markets for Google right now, and the company has largely tried to make sure its products make it to the country in their first wave. Even Android Go, Google’s initiative to create a stripped-down version of Android for entry-level smartphones, has been developed with India as one of its key markets.
The Economic Times reports that Google is working on a midrange Pixel smartphone for “price-sensitive” markets, including India, that will be released in July or August, according to industry executives who recently had meetings with Google. Additionally, the tech giant is planning to expand distribution into general trade and increase spending on marketing similar to what Apple and Samsung have been doing in India.
Besides the Pixel phones, Google may also be planning to bring more of its devices to India. The report notes that the company is exploring the launch of the Google Pixelbook, Google Home smart speakers, as well as its IoT products like doorbells, cameras, alarm systems, and smoke detectors that are sold under the Nest Brand. It adds that Google plans to introduce all these products over the next year.
“Google is excited about the expansion of the consumer products business in India with the advent of the cheap 4G internet led by Reliance Jio and other operators which it says will help to realize the maximum potential of these products,” said a leading retailer who had participated in the meet to Economic Times.
Furthermore, Google also plans to amp up its offline presence by expanding brick-and-mortar distribution through hardware distributor Redington as well as “in-store branding and signage in selected stores, and set up exclusive zones with specially designed fixtures like Apple,” an executive said. Stores have accounted for 36 percent of Pixel sales in India while e-commerce sales account for 38 percent.
The main reason behind Mountain View not doing a rapid expansion is the issue of brand recognition — many Indians are still oblivious that the search engine also sells hardware.
Xiaomi needs the POCO brand now more than ever
Trying to meet everyone’s expectations
Xiaomi is celebrating five years in India and they’ve announced a special sale across a huge selection of products. In the last five years, the brand has grabbed the number one spot in terms of market share, dethroning legacy giants like Samsung. How did a young brand like Xiaomi start from nothing and go on to lead the market?
The Chinese-brand entered India in 2014 and has always maintained a consistent track record of launching near-perfect phones that don’t cost a bomb. The Redmi brand in India slowly developed on the back of successful series like the Note. This one series helped the brand in establishing market supremacy in the budget midrange collection.
Then the brand cautiously went into the entry-level smartphone segment and started dominating that as well. Not only did the brand offer exceedingly competitive prices, but also flooded the market with options that covered every possible price point. We can safely call this a blitzkrieg-style strategy that overwhelmed the competitors as well as the users with products.
Xiaomi did try to launch a few flagship phones like the Mi 5, but they received a lukewarm response. The Redmi brand is synonymous with affordable phones in India, how do you break the threshold limit of INR 20,000 (US$ 290) and launch a flagship?
The importance of POCO
POCO (Pocophone in international markets) was the answer. A new sub-brand let them create a new ideology around the products and consumer expectations could be gauged. The POCO F1 started at just INR 19,999 (US$ 290) and boasted a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 processor. This was a deal-breaker for everyone.
A new report by the Economic Times says Xiaomi could soon kill the POCO brand. It cites a few top-level exits as contributing factors, along with the recent Redmi K20 launch. It emphasizes how Redmi and Mi are now a definite position from Xiaomi and POCO was overlapping.
This is where I tend to disagree. The Redmi K20 and K20 Pro have received a lot of backlash from consumers because they feel the phones are overpriced. A constant comparison is drawn between the K20 and Realme X. The K20 starts at INR 21,999 (US$ 319) and the K20 Pro starts at INR 27,999 (US$ 406).
Let’s get one thing straight, the phones aren’t overpriced. In fact, considering what they offer, the price is on point and continues Xiaomi’s legacy of offering competitive rates. Things went wrong on the marketing front.
Users have been expecting a POCO F1 successor soon, and Xiaomi has been teasing the K20 Pro for months. The company intended the K20 Pro to be a OnePlus 7 killer, but the buyers expected a POCO-like offering.
Considering the amount of bad press Xiaomi has received, killing off the POCO brand will only add fuel to the fire. And on the flip side, a POCO F2 launch will actually douse the fire and help Xiaomi in maintaining control over all price points. The company has raised everyone’s expectations so high, it’s finding it hard to keep up with them.
OPPO K3 is a fancier looking Realme X at the same price
The design is also inspired by OPPO Reno
Realme operates as an independent brand now, but when it first started last year, it was technically a sub-brand of OPPO. Since then, the Indian smartphone market has changed quite a lot. Realme has been successful in taking up a huge chunk of the market, Xiaomi is slowly inching forward, and Samsung is no longer sleeping.
In the midst of all the noise, OPPO and Vivo are treading cautiously. They’re focused on grabbing the offline market that relies on brick and mortar stores. Taking a step forward, OPPO has launched a new phone called the K3 in India, and it looks eerily similar to the Realme X. In fact, even the specs sheet is pretty much the same.
What sets it apart is that it shares the new design language OPPO’s Reno line first introduced, which OPPO said will serve as the catalyst for the company’s smartphone development for the next 10 years.
While OPPO and Realme are busy sharing resources, it’s the best time for a consumer to buy a new phone. There are simply too many options to choose from and pricing has never been this competitive.
To start with, the OPPO K3 sports a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display that also integrates a fingerprint scanner. The phone ships with ColorOS out of the box and relies on a Snapdragon 710 chipset to chug along.
The rear has a 16-megapixel primary camera coupled with a 2-megapixel secondary lens. The front camera is housed in a pop-up sliding module and consists of a 16-megapixel lens. The software incorporates standard AI-backed scene recognition and Ultra Clear Night View 2.0 feature. Lastly, backing these internals is a 3765mAh battery with VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology.
The 6GB+128GB option is priced at INR 16,990 (US$ 245) and the 8GB+128GB variant costs 19,990 (US$ 290). It’ll be available in Aurora Blue and Jade Black from July 23 via Amazon.in and offline retail stores.
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