In Search of the $100 Android Smartphones – India

October 8, 2013

in india, Mobility, research

AlphaThe $100 price point was once a big deal for the PC (One Laptop Per Child). $100 was also the point of reference for the Smartphone. That’s the price (no-contracts) where people said they would start taking over the world. The facts don’t yet support this in countries like India. Feature phones outsell smartphones in India by almost 10 to 1.  There is certainly a blurring of functionality offered between feature phones and low-cost Smartphones. And the proliferation of feature phones below the $80 mark, with basic internet, wifi capabilities.

Yesterday found me in Vileparle and the famous Irla street in Mumbai. That’s where Alfa 2 is. This store has been known as the biggest retailer of phones in Mumbai for a long time. It is certainly still busy although the whole locale now is loaded with similar retailers and almost any model you could want.

Can you buy a $100 smartphone today? Yes. Here’s an example.

Samsung Galaxy Music Duos S6012.  Sold with Android 4.0 and listed with an upgrade to 4.1. It has a 3 inch display is 3G ready. Price seen Rs. 6499/- or a little over $100. A little limited with a small screen and low end camera, many would have loved this phone a few years ago. Today, it looks a little dated.

This low end Samsung Android phone is effectively challenging the Nokia Asha series of Feature Phones. While Nokia feature phones start at Rs.4500 the best were a similar price to this Galaxy, although the Nokia may have a better screen and camera but no 3G etc. There remain many trade-offs and compromises at this price point from a premium smartphone user’s POV. Still, many would love to have a smartphone at this price, although I suspect they want a bigger screen. Many of the Indian brands are also offering the latest Android and better specs for similar money. There is still a 3G 2G trade-off on some devices at this price point and 3G is not yet everywhere in India.

SonyEvery store you walk into also confirms visually the “Big is Better” impact. One of the hard things to work out is which one is actually better  as they look so much alike. From Rs.8000 to Rs.12000, there are many many handsets that fit this bigger better mold. There are likely many theories why. The emotional, the practical.  I have my theories.

There appears to be an innovation opportunity that these larger screens present. I’m not sure Apps or the specs really allow this opportunity to emerge.  As an example I’m not sure running four videos at once on the same screen is really useful although I got a great demo from the sales guy who seemed to believe it was a great selling point!


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