For smartphones, finally discover the specifications of the asset
The marketing of phones in India has long been driven by the idea that people in India are very price conscious. This was partly reflected in the Google Year in Search 2015 data, where we saw eight of the ten most popular smartphones of the year, all under Rs. 15,000: Yu Yureka, Lenovo K3 Note, Lenovo A7000 , Motorola Moto G, Micromax Canvas Sliver 5, Samsung Galaxy J7, Micromax Canvas Spark and Lenovo A6000. The only two phones in this list costing more than Rs. 15,000 are the iPhone 6s and the Moto X Play.
(Also see: Test of the Moto G 3rd generation: discover the specifications of the assets)
In 2015, we saw Asus pushing its ZenFone 2 smartphones with 4GB of RAM and emphasizing the amount of RAM in the phone. Xiaomi was another brand that tried to offer feature-rich phones such as the Mi 4, Mi 4i and Redmi 2 – all well-equipped and low-priced. Lenovo has also done well with the K3 Note, A6000 and A7000 smartphones – all priced below Rs. 10,000.
There has been a focus on decent specs at an affordable price, which has driven smartphone sales for years, but that may not be the case anymore. On the one hand, research firm IDC, with its latest data release, raised some eyebrows by claiming that 2015 was one of the “first years of global single-digit smartphone growth.” The main driver of smartphone growth has been the success of low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, according to IDC, but as hardware becomes more standardized, handset makers will need to find new ways to appeal to price-focused buyers. the value.
And we are already seeing this happening. More recently, Lenovo kicked off the year with the launch of the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note. The phone has all the expected hardware, but that’s not what sets it apart. Instead, the company surprised everyone with its new gamble of bundling a VR (virtual reality) headset with the smartphone. By doing so, Lenovo is offering a whole new experience to its consumers, alongside the regular device, without charging a premium for the VR headset.
The VR headset that comes with the handset with a slight price increase adds to the package. For a consumer who has never had the opportunity to try virtual reality, it’s something new and exciting and although Google Cardboard is already an affordable headset, the big difference is that it looks like a cheap piece of cardboard, while the Lenovo headset looks like a fancy piece of gear that people are more likely to feel is worth the extra Rs. 500.
It shows that companies have started to think beyond just smartphone specs. Lenovo can be considered the first to try such an experiment in India, but LG was the first to make a move to bring the VR experience to the masses. Last year, LG and Google teamed up to offer a free virtual reality experience to LG G3 owners. Dubbed VR for G3, the wearable announced by LG was based on the design of Google’s Cardboard VR headset and was associated with new purchases of the smartphone in some regions. While VR for G3 had a limited range, it was still a step in the right direction.
Beyond accessories, the customization brands can do to give users a unique experience on their devices will help them stand out in an era of increasingly standardized specs.
Yu Televentures launched Yu Yutopia’s flagship smartphone last month and also introduced a new service aggregation platform dubbed Around Yu. The company said the new service aims to provide a one-stop shop for users to access public services such as flight, bus, hotel and taxi reservations, food orders and shopping. The idea is that consumers will be able to access various services without having to download and install a large number of applications. Yu will also expand the service to more of its smartphones, giving its users a reason to stick with Yu when it comes time to upgrade to a new smartphone.
Yu’s parent company, Micromax, also made a huge announcement recently, stating that it would provide users with a native payment solution for financial transactions, including sending or requesting money, bill splitting, sending gifts to friends and payments via phone integrations. Companies like Motorola and Xiaomi have also focused on software tweaks to stand out. Motorola delivers a largely stocked experience, with a few unique features like the Moto display making the phone stand out; Xiaomi, on the other hand, has brought useful features such as Visual IVR.
These are just a few announcements and launches that suggest a shift in the paradigm of the smartphone industry that has revolved around the spec sheet for years. Looking at the phones launched in January 2015, you can see that brands have to try to go beyond the hardware inside their phones, to really make them stand out.
It may be too early to talk about the rest of the year, but hopefully companies have realized that experience matters to a consumer, especially when specs are fairly standardized.
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