Motorola, the smartphone maker owned by China’s Lenovo Group, will launch a series of accompanying devices, to go along with the smartphone, in a shift from its mobile phones-only strategy, as India’s smartphone growth continues to slowdown.
The company calls these devices Mods – such as cameras, speakers, and projectors – that will deliver a different kind of mobile-using experience. These devices can be bought separately.
The speakers are JBL’s for the music enthusiast, the camera by Hassleblad is for photo lover, and the projector to pan movies, slides and powerpoints on a larger screen. These devices can be hooked to phone to make it the gadget of choice.
But, this change is strategy, which goes beyond smartphones is for a reason. There is little room to grow in the cluttered smartphone market. A vanilla offering of just having the phone in the market won’t be of much help, executives at Motorola realise.
“The transition from feature phone to smartphone won’t happen so soon,” said Sudhin Mathur, managing director, Motorola Mobility India and country head Lenovo Mobile Biz Group.
According to Massachusetts-headquartered research firm IDC, smartphones sales grew by 5.2% in 2016 to 109.1 million units. In 2015 it grew at 28.8%.
Mathur said that while the average selling price of the smartphone is going up, fewer feature phone buyers are upgrading to smartphones. “The replacement market is of about 100 million smartphones, where buyers are constantly upgrading,” he said.
Motorola and Lenovo, together, is the second largest player, and there is little it can do with just launching phones. “That is where our products of premium experience is coming into play,” said Mathur.
In the years to come, if Mathur is correct, only five brands will command around 80% of market share. “There will be consolidation,” he said.
Having a feature here, and an incremental feature there in the smartphone is not a reason enough to attract buyers, Mathur explains.
Even the use of the smartphone is limited without internet connectivity. India has 350 million internet users and 300 million smartphone users. The remaining 500 million people still use feature phones.
Every quarter, Motorola will launch four such devices. Mathur gave a glance into the future of the mods – they can be skycaps, mini-printers, and robotic devices. Even concepts of mods by four Indian developers have been approved, which will go into production, soon, said Mathur.
Motorola will also open experiential outlets so that interested buyers can walk in, plug and play, and experience these mods.