Premium quality at an affordable price means you have a winner at hand, thinks Shashin Devsare, executive director, Karbonn Mobiles. And the assessment at the company is it’s the rural pockets that can be at the forefront of sustaining the current momentum. Devsare, in an interview with Beryl Menezes, spells out the priorities and the product line-up.
How are local brands like Karbonn doing after the spate of low-cost and slashed rate smart phones launched by vendors like Nokia, Samsung and HTC?
Karbonn Mobiles has not been affected much by the other brands bringing in affordable smart phones to India. We believe in bringing top technological innovations to the masses at an affordable price and we stand by our commitment to afford the masses with the latest in the Android world.
Is there a trend in rural areas with people carrying more than one handset/SIM card?
We’ve heard of it, but there is no specific data to support. With the world going mobile and communications reaching far-flung areas of the country, it’s not hard to figure out that people in the rural areas and small towns might be carrying more than one mobile and SIM. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s figures of June 2012 say that dual SIM penetration in urban areas is about 64% and approximately 36% in rural areas. So, with the increase in mobile penetration, the situation of further influx of dual handset and dual SIM usage will augment and add to the boom in the sector.
There is a growing demand for dual and triple SIM mobiles across rural areas.
What are your sales figures for handsets in urban areas? Where do you see more uptake -- in rural or urban areas?
Our sales have been impressive over the past couple of financial years. We have been seeing an upswing in the feature phone segment wherein urban areas have accounted for 60% of the sales, and the rural 40%. In terms of smart phones, the urban market has contributed to 90% of the sales revenue generation.
How much has cricket sponsorship helped? Did your handset sales increase after the sponsorship?
Oh in a big way. Everybody knows the reach of cricket and the amount of sentiment and emotions attached to the game. Being associated with cricket has helped Karbonn Mobiles reach out to that consumer base and enlighten them about our offerings. Here, I would like to thank the BCCI, which offered us the sponsorship deals.
Our attachment to properties like Indian Premier League (IPL), Karbonn Smart Champions League T20 (CLT20) and the cricket series revolving around Indian cricket team has helped the brand immensely.
Any new launches in the offing? What is the strategy for 2013-14?
Going forward, our major thrust area will be to develop our smart phone range following the stupendous success of Karbonn Smart A21, A9, A9+, A7, A18 etc. We will be focussing on enhancing the product range.
Also, in the tablet category, Karbonn Smart Tab 1 with ICS and Jellybean, ST7, Karbonn ST9 Marvel and Karbonn Smart Tab2 have done amazingly well . Going forward, we would also like to enhance the range there.
In coming times, we will pass on more benefits to Karbonn users by developing a dedicated applications ecosystem which, along with special bundling and offers, will help us reach out to a larger consumer base and provide them a dedicated ‘Karbonn Smart’ experience.
We will also go for aggressive marketing initiatives for our smart phone range and make it as a relevant choice of consumers across categories.