Micromax faces new challenges in India, as Chinese language arrive in full pressure


A yr in the past, Micromax vaulted previous Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to turn into India’s main smartphone model. Right this moment, its market share has almost halved, a number of high executives have resigned, and the corporate is on the lookout for development outdoors India.

In Micromax’s slide to second place is a story of the promise and peril of India’s booming however hyper-competitive smartphone business.

India is the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market. Shipments of smartphones jumped 29 % to 103 million items final yr.

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Fast development has helped nurture a crop of native manufacturers, led by Micromax, that outsourced manufacturing to Chinese language producers. Now, as Samsung rolls out extra inexpensive telephones, the identical Chinese language factories are getting into the Indian market with their very own manufacturers, miserable costs and forcing Indian cell makers to rethink their methods.

“What the Indian manufacturers did to the worldwide manufacturers two years in the past, Chinese language cellphone makers are doing the identical to Indian manufacturers now, and over the following yr we see large competitors for Micromax and different Indian smartphone makers,” mentioned Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Analysis in New Delhi.


Micromax, which was based in New Delhi by 4 companions in 2000 however solely started promoting cell phones in 2008, constructed its market share by working with Chinese language producers resembling Coolpad, Gionee and Oppo to supply inexpensive telephones rapidly. In 2015, it launched greater than 40 new fashions.

In 2014, the founders introduced in outdoors managers to steer the corporate at a time when Micromax was difficult Samsung to turn into the biggest cell phone maker in India.

Micromax, Micromax Informatics, Micromax mobiles, Micromax sales down, Micromax new phones, Micromax struggles, Micromax vs Xiaomi, Micromax vs CoolPad, Smartphones, technology, technology news Micromax cell phones are displayed at a cell retailer in Mumbai on this 2013 picture. (Supply: Reuters)

However tensions arose quickly after between founders and the newly employed executives, six former executives informed Reuters. These conflicts undermined Micromax’s makes an attempt to boost funds for growth, say former executives. Final Might, Alibaba walked away from a mooted $1.2 billion buy of a 20 % stake, citing an absence of readability on development plans, in keeping with one government concerned within the dialogue.

Micromax co-founder Vikas Jain mentioned in an interview with Reuters this week that the corporate and Alibaba disagreed on a future roadmap. Alibaba declined to remark.

Former executives mentioned the shortage of contemporary funding undermined a proposal by the brand new executives to maneuver Micromax’s analysis and design operations, which had beforehand been outsourced, in-house. The transfer was supposed to assist Micromax differentiate itself from generic Android clones.

“We employed about 80-90 individuals in Bangalore to do in-house software program and design, however with no cash from the traders and little curiosity from the founders, that staff fizzled away and that workplace has been partially shut down now,” mentioned a former government.

After Alibaba walked away, Micromax struggled to draw different traders who would have been key to Micromax’s plan to spend money on software program R&D and {hardware} design. The corporate was compelled to scale down the in-house R&D challenge, a high government concerned within the fundraising plan mentioned.

At the very least 5 senior executives have resigned since November. The most recent was Vineet Taneja, chief government since 2014, who give up final week.


In the meantime, Chinese language handset makers, together with Coolpad and Oppo, to which Micromax outsources its manufacturing, have been sharpening their give attention to India. Samsung, too, started to introduce extra inexpensive fashions there.

Extra on Micromax: Right here is how Micromax’s native cell pockets will work

In 2015, Chinese language manufacturers doubled their market share to 18 %, in keeping with Counterpoint Analysis, taking away enterprise from Indian price range cellphone makers resembling Micromax, Intex, Lava and Karbonn. Indian manufacturers’ market share fell from 48 to 43 % final yr.

“Proper now the entire business is struggling due to the Chinese language telephones,” Jain informed Reuters. “We have now seen giant write-downs occurring on stock in China, and that stock is being handed on to India at a markdown.”

Chinese language cellphone makers together with LeEco, Xiaomi and Lenovo have additionally partnered with e-commerce corporations together with Amazon India and Flipkart to promote telephones on to shoppers, saving on distribution and gross sales and reaching new internet buyers straight.

Within the ultimate quarter of 2015, Micromax’s shipments fell by 12.1 %, towards development of 15.4 % for the sector, in keeping with business tracker IDC. Micromax’s share of the smartphone market fell to 13 % within the fourth quarter from 22 % at its peak in 2014, in keeping with IDC.

Micromax, which is privately held and doesn’t disclose monetary data, maintains it’s worthwhile. Founders Jain, Rahul Sharma, Rajesh Agarwal and Sumeet Arora nonetheless management about 80 % of the corporate. They’ve raised almost $90 million from traders within the final 5 years.

Additionally learn: Micromax CEO Vineet Taneja resigns

Dealing with competitors from each Samsung and cheap Chinese language telephones, Micromax plans to extend manufacturing in India. Jain mentioned that the corporate plans to double native manufacturing output from 1.5 million items to about 3 million items a month over the following six to 12 months.

Already a top-10 model in Russia, Micromax is in search of a associate to assist it increase additional outdoors India and diversify into televisions and tablets.

“Micromax must diversify geographically and likewise must diversify product traces,” mentioned Neil Mawston, government director of the worldwide wi-fi follow at London-based analysis consultancy Technique Analytics. How nicely it manages that diversification, Mawston says, shall be key.

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