India

India now the world’s second-largest smartphone market

It finally surpassed the US

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With a population of 1.3 billion, India is the second-most populated country in the world. The total number of population in India presents an opportunity for tech companies willing to break ground with their products. The proliferation of tech brands in the country testifies to the Indians’ demand for new tech products — particularly, smartphones.

Over the years, the smartphone market in India grew significantly. According to the latest statistics from Counterpoint Research, India finally surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world.

India’s growth remained while smartphone shipments remained flat globally.

The total smartphone shipment in India reached 158 million in 2019 with a 7% year-on-year growth.  The bulk of this shipment came from Indian buyers looking for midrange smartphones with flagship capabilities. These buyers, as the research notes, are buying these devices as their first or second smartphone.

Photo lifted from Counterpoint Research

Xiaomi leads the way

Chinese tech companies saw a strong surge in India and drove the majority of smartphone shipments. Xiaomi, in particular, leads the pack with 28% of smartphones shipped coming from the company. The company now has to prioritize the Indian market, as the market finally became its largest last 2019.

Samsung (24%), Vivo (16%), and OPPO (9%) also did well last 2019. Interestingly, Realme’s growth in India has been staggering — from 3% in 2018 to 10% in 2019, the company registered a 255% year-on-year growth.

Other companies like ASUS and OnePlus also grew significantly on an annual basis. ASUS registered a 67% growth while OnePlus at 29% growth.

While budget devices remain popular among Indians, the market for midrange and flagship devices is also growing. One company to benefit from this growth is Apple, wherein the lowered entry price of iPhone 11 compared to iPhone XR made it a hit among Indians with deep pockets.

Feature phones are declining

While the Indian smartphone market grew significantly, the market for feature phones dropped significantly. The market saw a steep 38% year-on-year decline during the last quarter of 2019. Counterpoint Research blames this to a slow down in shipments from a leading feature phone maker, Reliance Jio.

Surely, the Indian smartphone continues to be a competitive market for most tech companies. The growing adoption of smartphones in India means that there is no slowing down for its market. Perhaps, there will come a time when smartphone shipments in India may even surpass that of China’s.

India

POCO M2 Pro launches with Snapdragon 720G, quad cameras

A Redmi Note 9 Pro look-alike?

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After becoming an independent brand, POCO has focused on the affordable segment and is gradually expanding. Today, the brand launched the POCO M2 Pro in India and it’s the most affordable phone to sport a Snapdragon 720G chipset.

The phone looks eerily similar to the Redmi Note 9 Pro. In fact, the new phone directly undermines Redmi’s offering. It’s no surprise the two brands are leveraging Xiaomi’s supply chain perfectly.

Coming back to the phone, it has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display with a punch-hole cut-out and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 720G processor with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The phone has a P2i coating that enables dust and water resistance.

On the rear is a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, a 16-megapixel selfie shooter is located on the front.

It ships with POCO Launcher 2.0 out-of-the-box. Powering the phone is a 5020mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging.

The phone is available in three configurations. The first one with 4GB+64GB costs INR 13,999 (US$ 186), followed by 6GB+64GB at INR 14,999 (US$ 200), and lastly, the 6GB+128GB options goes for INR 16,999 (US$ 226). Color options are called Out of the Blue, Green and Greener, and Two Shades of Black. The phone will be up for purchase via Flipkart from July 14.

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India

India launches app innovation challenge after Chinese apps ban

Encouraging local developers and building an ecosystem

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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced a new program to encourage local developers and bridge the gap left behind by banned services like TikTok. It’s officially called “Aatma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge” and was unveiled by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Atma Nitrbhar means “to be independent” or “self-sufficient” in one of India’s widely used languages, Hindi. A few days ago, the Indian government announced a blanket ban on a few listed Chinese apps. Within no time, they were off the Play Store and many services like TikTok and Mobile Legends voluntarily stopped service after the ban was announced.

The App Innovation Challenge includes the promotion of existing apps as well as the development of new apps. The program is split into two tracks. The first one includes already released apps that have the potential to scale and become world-class in their segment. The second track aims to identify companies as well as individuals who can build next-generation apps for the country.

Tthe government is looking for alternative apps of the ones that remain banned. Companies will have to submit their entries by July 18 and a jury for each of the tracks shall evaluate the entries.

The challenge is available in eight categories, ranging from office productivity or work from home solutions to news and games.

The government has allocated INR 20,00,000 (US$ 26,780), INR 15,00,000 (US$ 20,085), and INR 10,00,000 (US$ 13,390) for the first three winners, respectively. Adding to this, Each sub-category winner will also be rewarded.

India has suffered high casualties amid an ongoing border dispute with China. The Coronavirus pandemic has further fueled the anti-China sentiment and the Indian government is exploring options to reduce its trade deficit with the neighboring country.

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Apps

Indian telco launches a Zoom rip-off and it’s free

Definitely worth giving it a shot!

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Jio, India’s leading telecom operator has recently been in the news for a lot of reasons. The company has more than 30 percent of the telecom market in India and it intends to pivot, unlike any other telco we’ve ever seen.

The company has launched a Zoom alternative called JioMeet. The video conferencing app is expected to get a lot of traction amid calls to increase self-dependence and reduce the consumption of foreign products. However, it seems like the Jio team took too much inspiration from Zoom and thought of just directly mimicking it.

The app looks almost identical to Zoom’s offering, except for the minor color change here and there. The app is one of many in Jio’s portfolio.

However, the app offers a lot of high-end features like unlimited free calls in HD and supports for 100 participants in one go. Additionally, JioMeet does not impose a short time limit on a call’s duration.

On Zoom, you’d require a premium account to disable the 40-minute restriction on calls. Thankfully, the app is available on the Play Store and App Store for download directly, and no coupons or invite links are needed.

For security and privacy reasons, all its meetings are password protected. The host has the control to send the uninvited guests to the “Waiting Room” to ensure no gatecrashing. Obviously, standard features like screen sharing have also been included.

For desktop usage, the service can also be accessed through Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. On its official website, JioMeet claims all the meetings are “encrypted”.

In the last two months, the telecom operator has raised billion in funding from global investors like Facebook. The company also owns JioSaavn music streaming service and has its own entertainment unit that offers movies, shows, as well as live TV.

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