After a long time, I could today see Micromax is synonymous to what it was, in the Indian context – the disruptor.
The company has come up with its first premium smartphone, Micromax Dual 5 at Rs 24,999. This is also the company's first dual rear camera smartphone featuring two 13MP primary cameras powered by Sony sensors as well as one 13MP front camera with soft glow flash.
In the past, the company had set highest levels of expectations, for instance, when it disrupted the Phablets category and made them mainstream not only forcing others to follow but it also cannibalised Tablet PCs as a product category at least in the consumer space.
Despite recent low nodes of performance, the company has significantly contributed to the growth of mobile handset market, Phablets and the ‘Make in India’ story all these years. This is in my opinion, not only because of the ‘intrusion’ of Chinese brands, but due to the unsettled attempts of transition of the company from promoter run to professionally managed one. Other than Nokia and Samsung, it is among the few early handset makers that took the bold decision of starting assembling/manufacturing mobiles in the country even when there was no policy from the government to attract electronics manufacturing in the country.
But of late, this magnitude of disruption was missing from Micromax which made it really difficult to enthuse consumers, who are anyway flooded with an array of devices to choose from.
The only good thing is that though we saw companies taking over at times the no. 2 spot from the company in the Indian mobile handset market on a monthly and quarterly basis, however, towards the end of CY 2016, Micromax stood 2nd at a little over 10pc market share and was the only handset maker after Samsung to have a double-digit market share by volume for the year. By revenues, it ranked 4th with revenues of over Rs 8,725 crores for the year which was 6.4pc of the total market in terms of INR.
But this time, through Dual 5, I see a chance for Micromax to mark a vigorous comeback that will not only help it renegotiate the smartphone segment, but improve the outlook of the company overall.
However, the biggest challenge for Micromax would be establish itself in this Premium category of smartphones. For CY 2016, its shipment contribution was mere 0.1pc that amounted to 0.4pc of the revenues. This includes Yu sub-brand from the company, which is a separate entity in the market.
With low performance credentials in the Premium Smartphone category (Rs 20,000- 50,000), it will be challenging for Micromax even with such a promising product to outshine. Micromax will have to craft a premium marketing campaign to position and connect with the potential premium phone buyers. That may also call for company setting up experience zones in retail spaces where they could catch hold of such consumers. Needless to say, it has to be an integrated marketing campaign and digital needs to be interwoven intelligently and smartly.
The other thing, which not only Micromax, but others in the market will also have to reconsider, is over-emphasis on the photography capabilities of a smartphone. Agreed that photos would be the primary type of content creation over smartphones at the moment, but as we move more towards 4G era, this will change more towards videos. We have already seen apps like Facebook, enabling video content creation and infact the trend of going ‘live’ is increasing in our social sphere. This is what needs to be emphasised by Micromax through Dual 5, which of course has camera as the anchoring specification.
We have already seen Gionee, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo exploiting the camera for photography aspect a lot and if Micromax has to position itself ahead of the curve, it should not be seen as someone following the trend. So, it has to give that message loud and clear that Dual 5 is for more live and video content, especially with 4G being around.